Preconception care: Closing the gap in the continuum of care to accelerate improvements in maternal, newborn and child health

Sohni V. Dean, Zohra S. Lassi, Ayesha M. Imam, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Preconception care includes any intervention to optimize a woman's health before pregnancy with the aim to improve maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) outcomes. Preconception care bridges the gap in the continuum of care, and addresses pre-pregnancy health risks and health problems that could have negative maternal and fetal consequences. It therefore has potential to further reduce global maternal and child mortality and morbidity, especially in low-income countries where the highest burden of pregnancy-related deaths and disability occurs.

Methods. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence was conducted to ascertain the possible impact of preconception care for adolescents, women and couples of reproductive age on MNCH outcomes. A comprehensive strategy was used to search electronic reference libraries, and both observational and clinical controlled trials were included. Cross-referencing and a separate search strategy for each preconception risk and intervention ensured wider study capture.

Results: Women who received preconception care in either a healthcare center or the community showed improved outcomes, such as smoking cessation; increased use of folic acid; breastfeeding; greater odds of obtaining antenatal care; and lower rates of neonatal mortality.

Conclusion: Preconception care is effective in improving pregnancy outcomes. Further studies are needed to evaluate consistency and magnitude of effect in different contexts; develop and assess new preconception interventions; and to establish guidelines for the provision of preconception care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS1
JournalReproductive Health
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2014


  • adolescents
  • continuum of care
  • pre-pregnancy
  • preconception
  • women of reproduction age


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