According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Health, the outcome of a woman’s pregnancy may be a key indicator of her future health. Doctors can provide more comprehensive health care by using pregnancy outcome as an indication of current and future health.
Researchers noted past studies linking conditions like hypertension during pregnancy to future health problems. In one study with more than 15,000 participants, women suffering from increased blood pressure during pregnancy were more apt to have heart problems in the future, including hypertension and metabolic problems. Studies have also shown a link between early birth and heart problems for pregnant women. According to Dr. George R. Saade, “Pregnancy represents a unique opportunity to identify women who may be at increased risk of chronic diseases later in life.” But, hypertension is not the only condition that poses a problem of future health.
Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy or have trouble losing pregnancy weight also tend to be at higher risk for obesity after pregnancy. Obesity is associated with hypertension, heart problems, diabetes and other health conditions.
With proper care and understanding of the connection between pregnancy health and future health problems, doctors can support women and maintain regular, check-ups to reveal any health conditions or pre-cursors before illness or disease begins. Proper diet and exercise are important for overall health, especially for women having suffered health problems or complications during pregnancy.
Typically, obstetricians and gynecologists only see female patients as needed or for yearly check-ups. The information collected during pregnancy should become a part of regular health care. Obstetricians can use this information to become more a part of preventative health care, but that care must coincide with the care of the family physician. In some cases, a partnership between the obstetrician and family physician may be needed to provide optimal preventative care.
Source: Society for Maternal-Fetal Health. 14 September, 2011.