Pregnancy Planning (cont.)

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What inherited (genetic) diseases can play a role in pregnancy planning?

Certain diseases, such as Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and certain neurological diseases are genetically inherited. Healthy couples with family histories of these conditions may themselves be carriers of these genetic traits. Blood tests can be performed to screen for certain genetic traits prior to conceiving. Genetic counseling is given to couples who may carry genetic diseases as part of pregnancy planning.

Older women have an increased risk of having babies with chromosome abnormalities, leading to cognitive disabilities and other birth defects. Chromosomal abnormalities (like Down syndrome) can lead to birth defects and cognitive disabilities. Pregnant women older than 35 years may consider amniocentesis to detect these chromosomal abnormalities. During amniocentesis, amniotic fluid samples are aspirated from the womb. Chromosome analysis can be performed on fetal cells within the amniotic fluid.

Phenylketonuria is an inherited disease that affects the utilization of a certain protein component in foods. This disorder can be detected by a blood test. Mothers with phenylketonuria may give birth to developmentally disabled children unless their diets are strictly controlled to exclude phenylalanine.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Recommendations from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology say that pregnant women who have an uncomplicated pregnancy should participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. A few exceptions are noted: ice hockey, kickboxing, soccer, and horseback riding probably should be avoided because they are activities with higher risk of trauma to the abdomen. Also, scuba diving poses a risk of decompression sickness ("the bends") to the fetus and should be avoided. Exercise programs should be discussed with the monitoring health care professional.

Elevated temperatures can have adverse effects on the development of the fetus. Therefore, hot tubs and sauna baths should be avoided when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2014

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