Preconception Health

Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so improved health for all women of childbearing age helps prevent adverse birth conditions.

  • Click here for a printable profile of NH birth conditions and preconception health indicators.
  • Click here to see the latest research on risk factors from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.

Risk Factors by the Numbers
Some factors that increase risk for birth conditions are listed below, with the percent of New Hampshire women of childbearing age who are at higher risk:

Total NH Women Age
18-44 = 223,000
% with Risk FactorIncreased Risk for Babies with
Obesea 22 Spina bifida
Diabetica 2 Spinda bifida
Heavy alcohol usera 5 Fetal alcohol syndrome
Kidney defects
Current smokera 24 Cleft lip
Cleft palate
Club foot
Not taking acida 60 Spina bifida

There are 900 births to women younger than 20 each year.c These babies are 7 times more likely to have gastroschisis than babies born to mothers age 25-30.

There are 2400 births to women age 35 and older each year.c These babies are 3-6 times more likely to have Down syndrome than babies born to mothers age 25-30.

Other Early Pregnancy Risk Factorsd

Anticonvulsant (epilepsy) drugs
Asthma and asthma medications
High blood pressure medications
Some infections (genital)
Family history
Environmental exposures

*Women who could be pregnant should always consult with their doctor before starting OR stopping any medicine!

Sources: aNH BRFSS, bMarch of Dimes, cNH Vital Records, dNational Birth Defects Prevention Study, eKhoshnood et al., 2000

Free Download Click here for a printable fact sheet about the impact and prevention
of birth conditions in New Hampshire.