Don’t miss these pre-pregnancy tests if you’re above 30s

Getting some pre-pregnancy tests and scans before you take the plunge, will help you ascertain likely complications, especially if you’ve crossed 30.
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Be aware of the risks before planning a baby later in life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Vaishali Joshi Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 13:23 pm IST
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A healthy mother gives birth to a healthy baby. Due to unhealthy lifestyles and stress levels, women in their 30s can have hidden medical problems which need to be corrected or optimised to ensure smooth and healthy pregnancy. That highlights the importance of opting for pre-pregnancy tests before you take the plunge.

The recommended pre-pregnancy investigations are:

1. Complete blood count

It detects low hemoglobin or anemia which is one of most common problems in young women and can be easily corrected by diet or medications.

2. Blood group

Helps to identify a woman with Rhesus negative blood group. A Rhesus negative pregnant woman will need to have Anti-D injections during and post delivery.

3. Thyroid hormone profile

Thyroid hormone helps to maintain our body’s general well-being, fertility and menstrual cycles. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroid) can give rise to weight gain, hair loss and infertility. The supplementation of external thyroid hormone helps spontaneous conception and neurodevelopment of the foetus during pregnancy.

4. Fasting and Postprandial blood sugars:

It helps us to detect diabetes which is one of the common public health problems in India due to dietary habits and lifestyle issues. Early detection helps to manage it with diet and exercises. Deranged glucose metabolism in pre-pregnancy can give rise to Gestational Diabetes and macrosomic or big babies. High sugar levels around conception and in the first trimester can be detrimental to foetus, giving rise to developmental defects.

5. Infection screening:

HIV, Hepatitis B, VDRL tests help to detect dormant infections which can not only affect you but also your family . Though they have been stigmatised, the treatments available can help an individual to maintain good health keeping onset of disease at bay.

It is better to be sure and safe than sorry. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Vaccination against Hepatitis B:

Vaccination against Hepatitis B can be offered prior to pregnancy. If a woman tests positive for HIV, the pregnancy can be timed at zero or least viral load so that transmission of the disease to the baby through placenta will be minimised.

5. Rubella IgG antibodies:

This can help to know whether woman is protected against Rubella (German Measles) infection which can be one of the common cause of miscarriage in pregnancy. The option of Rubella vaccination can be offered to the woman if she is susceptible. It is advisable to defer pregnancy for at least one month post vaccination.

6. Varicella-zoster IgG antibodies:

A Varicella-zoster IgG antibodies check may be recommended particularly if a woman is working with young children like teachers. Vaccination against this infection helps to protect an unborn child.

7. Toxoplasma Antibody test

This will be useful if a woman has feline pets. An appropriate advice with respect to self care around these pets can be given to woman to protect themselves against Toxoplasmosis infection in pregnancy.

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Ensure your health is in check before you plan pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Thalassemia screening test- Hb electrophoresis

This helps to understand if someone has defective Thalassemia Hb which can be a cause of low hb. If positive then, there is a 25 percent chance that your baby may have the same gene. Hence, it’s necessary to test the husband for exact risk calculation of Thalassemia in the unborn child.

9. Pap Smear:

This test is commonly done by a gynaecologist for screening for cancer of the neck of the womb (cervix) during internal examination. It helps to pick up the cells from the inner skin and then scan them under a microscope to pick up any abnormal cells. This test helps to identify pre-cancerous cells so that treatment can be initiated before cancer starts. One needs to do the test once in at least 3 years.

10. Ultrasound of the pelvis or genital organs:

This helps to look for problems like cysts or water-filled swelling of the ovaries, fibroids or polyps (skin tags to the inner skin of the womb). The treatment of these problems may be required prior to one plans pregnancy. Occasionally, it helps to detect developmental problems in a young woman which can go undiagnosed and can have an adverse pregnancy outcome.

The last words

It’s advisable to optimise woman’s health prior to planning a pregnancy by lifestyle modifications like a healthy diet and regular daily exercises. The daily intake of 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month prior to conception is recommended to prevent neurodevelopmental and congenital malformations in the newborn.

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About the Author

Dr Vaishali Joshi is a senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, Mumbai. With over 25 years of experience, Dr Joshi holds an MD in Obstetrics & Gynaecology from King Edward Memorial Hospital and Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Mumbai, a DNB in Obstetrics & Gynaecology from the Delhi National Board, New Delhi. She has been felicitated & bestowed FRCOG by The Royal College, U.K for her 14 years of contribution in the field of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at an International level. ...Read More

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