Health topics

Early child development – Preconception care

A young woman.

Care given to women and men to ensure they are in good health before they conceive a child is an essential component to protect the health and development of their offspring. Preconception care improves the health of women and men while reducing the chances that their children will be born prematurely, have low birth weight, birth defects or other birth-related conditions that could hinder optimal child development.

WHO has developed a package of interventions for preconception care covering issues such as maternal nutrition, cessation of tobacco and excessive alcohol use, prevention of interpersonal violence, sexuality education, and protection from environmental hazards, genetic counselling and support for mental health. Adolescence is a prime – though not the only – window of opportunity to deliver these interventions. The package also improves awareness about men’s contribution to maternal and child health.