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February 25, 2015

The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) Reproductive Health Workgroup has written a position paper on preconception health, SHIFT – Enhancing the Health of Ontarians: A Call to Action for Preconception Health Promotion and Care. The paper advocates for a coordinated and comprehensive approach in the area of preconception health in Ontario.

What is preconception health?
Preconception health refers to the health of all individuals during their reproductive years, regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. It is an approach that promotes healthy fertility and focuses on actions to reduce risks, promotes healthy lifestyles, and increases readiness for having a child someday, if desired.

Why now?
Despite universal access to high quality prenatal care and advances in medicine, adverse perinatal outcomes persist in Ontario. Emerging population trends, such as growing rates of obesity and overweight among women and men of reproductive age, and increasing number of women giving birth later in life, require a change in the conceptualization and delivery of reproductive health service in Ontario. Experts agree that in order to improve birth outcomes it is imperative to intervene before pregnancy. Many maternal and paternal risk factors for poor birth outcomes, such as lifestyle behaviours, are modifiable in the preconception period.

What does the position paper say?
The paper provides the rationale for broadening the window of reproductive health practices to include preconception health, by providing a summary of current evidence, promising interventions, and existing gaps and opportunities. It concludes with advocating for a comprehensive approach to mobilize this shift.

To read the Executive Summary, please click here.

Contact Us
For more information or to become involved with OPHA’s work in the area of preconception health, please contact: