Thinking Differently Together - First 1,000 Days Of Life

Preconception and the prevention of long term conditions Helen explained that foetal development, the complexity of a pregnancy and birth, and a child’s long-term health outcomes are influenced from Day 1 of gestation. The pregnant person’s health status can change the child’s DNA and impact into the child’s adulthood, and impact their long-term health and wellbeing. However, half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so many people may well not have considered their health before gestation. By the end of the first month after gestation, when most people still don’t know they are pregnant, the baby has already developed a heart, digestive system, backbone and spinal cord. Brain cells are starting to form and the neural tube where the brain and spinal cord develop, is already in place. By Day 56 most of the baby’s organs have developed. It is probably Week 9 or 10 before they first see their midwife, when they will first discuss their pregnancy. At that stage it is not too late to make these changes, but for maximum influence on foetal development, we should consider our health before conception and make any lifestyle changes we need. Compared to the East of England region, Suffolk and North East Essex has a higher than average number of preterm births (born before 36 weeks and 6 days’ gestation). Often preterm birth is normally caused by a complex pregnancy, so we need to help families, including both partners, to be as healthy as possible. We also know that health, wellbeing and the wider determinants of health, such as housing and employment status, all have a direct impact on the risk of preterm birth too. The diagram below shows the risk factors at conception that can impact on pregnancy. 3. Understanding the story Helen Bowles, Maternity and Neonatal Programme Manager, Suffolk & North East Essex Local Maternity & Neonatal System Source: Public Health England (2018) Making the Case for Preconception Care In addition, deprivation and ethnicity are key factors in long term outcomes. A child born into deprivation has a higher risk of developing diabetes, asthma, learning disability, autism or ADHD, or congenital abnormality. As an adult there may be a higher statistical risk of being obese or a smoker. The parent’s health status at conception can therefore significantly impact on the child’s whole life. 5 | Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System