Why are there new recommendations on preconception health and health care now?

There have been important advances in medicine and prenatal care in recent years. Despite these advances, birth outcomes are worse in the United States than in other developed countries. Many babies are born prematurely or have low birth weight. In some groups of people, the problems are actually getting worse.

Experts agree that women need to be healthier before becoming pregnant. While this is not a new idea, there has not been an organized effort to promote preconception health and health care until now. The recommendations shown here have been developed by local, state, and federal government agencies, with help from national medical organizations and groups such as the March of Dimes. They offer guidance to individuals and their families, health care providers, planners, and policy makers. The goal is to improve the health of women so that babies can be born healthier in the future.