Prenatal care from a conventional medicine perspective follows a standard that is an excellent starting point. Tobacco and alcohol restriction, measuring iron levels, checking fetal structural development, BP and urine measurements, and other aspects of primary care prenatally are important pillars. With more funding, and if asked to direct a higher standard of care, these are the additional recommendations I would make:
- 1) Disseminate information to would-be parents, prior to conception, that a pre-pregnancy session with a trained professional is advisable.
- 2) During the pre-pregnancy session, an individualized treatment plan would be outlined by a holistic professional, with the intention of optimizing mom’s health. This session could be used to understand Mom’s lifetime habits and exposures, address nutrition imbalances, optimize liver function, provide support for digestive and intestinal health, and detoxify tissues following the principles of functional medicine. Setting the target date for conception based on a measurable change in Mom’s health would be advised. (The same process can be used for Dad based on research indicating the importance of sperm health.)
- 3) During the pre-pregnancy session, a discussion would take place emphasizing the importance of: a balanced diet; the avoidance of dietary chemicals like high fructose corn syrup, MSG and aspartame; assessment and avoidance of food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities; organic food choices with direction on avoiding “the dirty dozen“; the best fish choices; and the basics of hydration including the healthiest water sources.
- 4) A home survey would be conducted, with education about: the importance of avoiding home renovation projects during, and perhaps prior to, pregnancy; cleaning up indoor air quality; the common sources of household lead; and the strict avoidance of chemicals like pesticides. Scanning the home for EMF’s and geopathic stress could be included.
- 5) A workplace survey would be included as well, again with the purpose of identifying and avoiding sources of poor air quality, excessive radiation, and oxidative stressors.
- 6) Provide sound advice about dental procedures and cleaning during pregnancy where amalgam fillings are involved.
- 7) Check Mom for an Omega 3 score, and optimize Essential Fatty Acid balance. EFA’s are vital to fetal nervous system development.
- 8) Measure Vitamin D blood levels, and supplement into a healthy range, while also avoiding calcium deficiency.
- 9) Aggressively treat iron deficiency, which along with point 8. helps to avoid/lessen the impact of stored bone lead mobilized during pregnancy.
- 10) Measure and ensure normalcy of Mom’s glutathione and/or homocysteine levels.
- 11) Instruction on appropriate physical activity, air travel, emotional stress and other impactful daily activities that are often taken for granted.
This is a list that can be expanded as research develops regarding how to best protect a developing fetus from any negative influence of environmental and nutrition factors. It is based on personal experience in my medical practice where taking detailed case histories, including pregnancy exposures, of a tremendous number of families has been part of my daily routine for over 10 years.
The goal is ensuring the healthiest newborns and children possible, understanding that studies have shown that at birth 287 chemicals have been found in cord blood . For some children, perhaps the ones with susceptibilities or compromised nutrition, a chemicalized start to life inside, and then outside, the uterus is a contributing factor in developmental disorders.
Parents are advised to bear in mind that fetal tissue concentrates many chemicals to a much higher level than what exists in Mom’s tissues, that many chemicals move to the baby from Mom during pregnancy, and that the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed until at least 6 weeks after birth. A little education in this area can go a long way, which in my mind should begin prior to conception. Because the question needs to be asked: are we as a society, in the 21st century, doing all we can to ensure a healthier start for our newborns?
(Dedicated to my kids)
Originally published in 2011 by Dr. John Gannage, MD