A must read for Early Diagnosis of Pregnancy
Early diagnosis of pregnancy carries multiple benefits for
both the woman and the unborn baby. This early period of pregnancy coincides with the most vulnerable period for the developing embryo to environmental exposures through the mother.
The Red Zone of Early Pregnancy
Early pregnancy carries a significant risk of congenital
malformations( birth defects of the baby acquired during pregnancy) or even death. This red zone can be divided into two sequential moments
- The first 2 weeks. During the first 10 to 14 days of pregnancy, the cells of the embryo are dividing rapidly and any significant harmful exposure during this period can lead to cell death ending in miscarriage. Injured cells during this period, either recover completely or die. It is called the all-or-nothing principle.
- The period of organ formation or organogenesis.
This is the period during which the organs of the body are being formed. Eg the heart is developing its four chambers as we know it. Any disturbance of this normal process will lead to malformations. This period occurs from the week 3 to 8 of pregnancy.
An Avoidable Danger
Did you notice that by the time a pregnant misses her period, her pregnancy is already 2 weeks old? Moreover, following the menstrual period is not very accurate because up to 10% of pregnant women will experience vaginal bleeding during this period that might make things really confusing.
That is why some women might not be pressed to take a pregnancy test until after the second missed period raises the flag very high.
A common example of an avoidable dangerous exposure is the unintentional continuous use of alcohol or even a prescription drug that affects pregnancy during these early weeks .
Common Harmful Exposures
An exposure that causes an abnormality in the structure or function of the unborn baby is called a teratogen. About 4 to 6% of all birth defects are caused by harmful environmental exposures, and include
Uncontrolled disease of the mother, like diabetes
Infections such as the TORCH infections(Toxoplasmosis, Other (syphilis), Rubella, Cytomegalovirus , Herpes simplex virus.
Prescription drugs such as some medications used for
epilepsy and hypertension
Nonprescription drugs and other substances such as alcohol
Chemicals like mercury
Physical agent such as fever, radiation
Benefits of Early Diagnosis of Pregnancy
Anticipation for a desired pregnancy and anxiety over an undesired one are the most frequent reasons why women seek to an early detection of pregnancy. However, the more significant medical reasons for early detection of pregnancy include
- The certainty of pregnancy will prompt women to alter their behavior and practices to protect their fetus. These may range from more careful control of medical illnesses such as diabetes to stopping prescription drugs that might be dangerous to cessation of illicit drug use or harmful exposures like to chemicals and radiation.
- It will also stimulate women to seek prenatal care at the appropriate time which will offer a great benefit to you and the unborn baby.
- It will also allow the most accurate estimation of the age of your pregnancy. The “earlier, the better!” Sometimes, knowing the age of the pregnancy might be a “headache”, even tothe doctors!
- It provides an opportunity for early detection of an abnormal early pregnancy.
The best advice, reserved for the end, is that protecting
your baby begins before the pregnancy.