Preconception Health and Health Care and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Opportunities for Collaboration

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This is an excerpt from the full report.

In recent years, the importance of women’s preconception health and health care (PCHHC) for improving birth outcomes, especially among high-risk populations, has been highlighted by numerous researchers, advocates, and policymakers. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Select Panel on Preconception Care issued recommendations for improving preconception health and health care. Throughout this report, we refer to preconception health and health care as efforts to promote women’s wellbeing and health before, during, and between pregnancies and throughout their childbearing years. A growing body of evidence points to the importance of a woman’s physical, mental, environmental, and behavioral health over her life course for her children’s birth outcomes, and consequent child development and later life wellbeing. The Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) initiative can play an important role in advancing PCHHC, benefiting women, young children, and families in their communities.

This report will:

  • provide evidence for the causal link between an individual’s health at birth and his/her wellbeing in later life;
  • present statistics on existing disparities in birth outcomes across socio-demographic groups in the United States;
  • discuss how improving mothers’ preconception health – physical and mental health, as well as behavioral and environmental factors – can influence children’s birth outcomes;
  • present examples of how different states and organizations are taking steps to implement the CDC recommendations;
  • discuss how the health care reform bill of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), can impact preconception health and health care; and
  • present recommendations for ECCS coordinators and other early childhood policymakers.

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