Preconception Screening

By Emily Richmond and Dr. Dickerson

Planning on having an optimally healthy pregnancy? Optimal health is important prior to conception to minimize controllable risk factors. Know the screening exams available for you prior to conception so that you can achieve the best results for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Paired with a complete physical exam, the following screening labs can help to reduce risk factors for conditions such as autistic spectrum disorders, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune conditions, and methylation abnormalities.

Screening labs:

  • Diabetes and Prediabetes Screening: Fasting Blood Glucose, Hemoglobin A1C
  • Lipid Panel: Cholesterol, Cholesterol Ratio, Triglycerides. High cholesterol is an indication of increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Low cholesterol is a concern as well because the sex hormones necessary for sustaining a pregnancy are made from cholesterol.
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: Assesses liver and kidney function.
  • Complete Blood Count with Differential: Assesses the health of red and white blood cells.
  • Ferritin: Assesses the status of iron stores.
  • Vitamin D3: Screens for Vitamin D3 deficiency.
  • Thyroid: Screens for thyroid disease. TSH, free T4, free T3.
  • CRP: C-reactive protein – Indication of inflammatory processes within the body.
  • MTHFR: Screens for the MTHFR gene mutation that may be related to birth defects and chronic health conditions.

Additional Testing Considerations:

  • Food allergy (IgE) & food sensitivity(IgG) panel — Immunoglobulin mediated responses to foods.
  • Celiac panel — Indication of celiac disease (autoimmune reaction to gluten products).
  • Antinuclear Antibody – Indication of auto-immune processes within the body.
  • Salivary hormone panel — Determines levels of sex hormones in the body. Determining if a woman has sufficient hormones to sustain a pregnancy is important, especially if that woman has a history of miscarriages, irregular menses, and/or if she is of advanced maternal age.

Eliminate Nutrient Deficiencies:

  • Iron is a very important nutrient for a healthy pregnancy and is a common nutrient deficiency that occurs during pregnancy. Adequate levels of iron ensure that the fetus and mother are getting sufficient nutrients and oxygenation throughout the pregnancy.
  • Vitamin D3 deficiency can cause low immune function, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, fatigue, asthma, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America, especially at this latitude.
  • Folate is essential for the normal fetal development of the nervous system. It is an essential component of any preconception care plan.

Utilizing some of the above lab tests and treating accordingly during the preconception phase may be beneficial for reducing the risk of having a child on the autistic spectrum, based on the book Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders–and What Parents Can Do Now by Dr. Robert Melillo, MD.