Pregnancy test kits at home can lead to better prenatal care

February 11th, 2009 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) Home pregnancy test for women having unprotected sex could substantially impact the health of newborns, according to a study.Michigan State University’s (MSU) Mary Nettleman found that significantly more women who had a pregnancy test kit at home not only suspected they could be pregnant but also took tests much more frequently.

“The top reason women do not seek prenatal care is they do not realise they are pregnant,” said Nettleman, chairwoman of the College of Human Medicine department of medicine.

“Women who do not realise they are pregnant will not change harmful behaviours such as drinking and smoking, which can lead to developmental problems in newborns.”

Nettleman added that one of the most common reasons for unintended pregnancy is that women don’t feel they are at high risk for pregnancy.

“This simple intervention - giving home pregnancy test kits to women who are having unprotected sex - was able to do what no other study has done: Influence women to be more vigilant about potential pregnancy,” she said.

Participants in the study, funded by the Michigan department of community health, were low-income, adult women who were having unprotected sex and not trying to conceive. Women in the intervention group were given free home-pregnancy tests and were able to order more kits as needed, said a MSU release.

“Telling a woman she is pregnant will often cause her to immediately stop or cut down on smoking, drinking and other behaviours that can hurt the baby,” Nettleman said.

The study appears in the current edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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