Preconception Health

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There are many things to know when you are planning a pregnancy. Taking good care of you and getting screened for ethnicity-specific genetic disease causing mutations  increases your chance of a healthy baby. This information is provided as a guide. You are always welcome to ask our staff for more information if you have questions.

Genetic Screening

Depending on your ethnic background and family medical history, you may choose to be screened for certain genetic conditions before conception, including:

  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Thalassemia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Canavan disease
  • Familial dysautonomia
  • Fanconi anemia group C
  • Niemann-Pick disease type A
  • Mucolipidosis IV
  • Bloom syndrome
  • Gaucher disease

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

When a couple’s past medical history or preconceptional genetic screening places them at high risk of transmission to their offspring, preimplantation genetic testing with IVF may significantly improve outcomes. A Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is performed for couples who are at risk of transmitting a specific inherited disorder. In such cases, either parents may harbor a known mutation or structural chromosomal abnormality, such as a translocation. With a PGD, embryos may be tested at various points in time during early embryo progression, enabling fertility specialists to select chromosomally normal embryos. PGD may also be used to select the gender of an embryo if a couple desires to have either a male or female child.


Prior to trying to conceive, it is best to be current with all standard adult immunizations, including tetanus, rubella and pertussis. Additional immunizations are available for hepatitis, varicella (chicken pox) and influenza. If you are certain that you have been infected with German measles or chicken pox in the past, testing for these immunities may not be necessary. Any vaccinations you receive should be administered at least 28 days before becoming pregnant.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Per FDA guidelines, both female and male partners require infectious disease testing prior to treatment. The infectious disease screen includes HIV 1 and 2, HTLV-1 and 2, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis. Women at high risk of STDs may also elect to be tested for gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Screening is imperative to prevent transmission of infections both between partners as well as the developing fetus. In certain instances, transmission of some STIs to the developing fetus may lead to significant birth defects or even miscarriage.

Preexisting Medical Conditions

Preexisting medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, epilepsy, systemic lupus, thyroid disorders and depression/anxiety can be exacerbated in the pregnant state. This can compromise both the health of the mother as well as the developing fetus. Please bring all of your medication information, including dosages, to your initial consultation. If your physician deems it necessary, he may coordinate care with respective specialists to ensure safety and good health prior to initiating fertility treatment.

Importance of a Healthy Weight

Your weight at conception can influence your pregnancy and delivery as well as your infant’s health.

Overweight: Women who are overweight before conception are at increased risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm delivery, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or fetal/neonatal death. Obesity can significantly decrease a woman’s chances of getting pregnant as well as place a pregnant woman at higher risk of having a miscarriage. One of the most common mechanisms involves a disruption of a woman’s menstrual cycle, leading to ovulatory dysfunction. Furthmore, in certain conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome  (PCOS), developing eggs may be exposed to hormonally hostile environmental conditions, impairing successful egg maturation and subsequent fertilization by sperm.

Underweight: Women who are severely underweight are also at increased risk for a number of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth and intrauterine growth retardation. Being underweight may interfere with ovulation and the normal hormones needed to achieve pregnancy.

It is not recommended that a woman attempt to lose weight during pregnancy. We offer nutritional and dietary support plans to safely assist patients with leading a healthier lifestyle.

Importance of a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high-protein foods, will ensure that you get the recommended daily requirements for vitamins and minerals and adequate nutrient stores for pregnancy.

Folic Acid: Folic acid is an especially important nutrient for women of child-bearing age. Taking a folic acid supplement before conception as part of a healthy diet has been shown to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida. North Dallas IVF recommends you talk with your physician about the appropriate amount of folic acid to take if you are trying to become pregnant.


Each year, thousands of babies are born with some degree of alcohol related damage. Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, many do not realize that moderate, or even light, drinking may also harm the fetus. In fact, no level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe. Women should avoid alcohol, including beer, wine, wine coolers and hard liquor, throughout their pregnancy and while nursing.


Components in cigarette smoke have been shown to interfere with the ability of cells in the ovary to make estrogen and cause a woman’s eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities. Smoking has also been shown to increase the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Low birth weight babies
  • Premature birth
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Need for more IVF attempts to result in pregnancy for smokers

Illegal Drugs

Illegal drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana and heroin, can affect a pregnancy and the fetus. Illegal drug use before conception is associated with miscarriage, prematurity, growth retardation, congenital defects, intrauterine growth restriction, hyperactivity and severe neonatal withdrawal syndrome.

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