Commissioner Speaks to Students about Preconception Health

Commissioner Heather Howard of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services talks about the importance of preconception health

Photo: Mike Peters

Commissioner Heather Howard

As part of the statewide campaign “A Healthy You = A Healthy Baby,” New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard spoke to Montclair State students about the importance of preconception and prenatal health at the Student Center on December 2. The event was hosted by the University Health Center and the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority.

Since the start of the campaign in October, Howard has been visiting college campuses, health centers, and Women, Infant, and Children’s clinics stressing the need for women to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle before, during and in between pregnancies. “The theme of our campaign is ‘a Healthy You Equals a Healthy Baby’ to really convince women that taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do to ensure that you have a healthy baby,” said Howard.

Citing statistics from a report by the Prenatal Care Task Force, Howard said that more than one-third of all pregnancies in New Jersey are unplanned or mistimed, reaffirming the need for preconception health care for women of childbearing age. “What you do to your body now will matter down the road,” Howard told the assembled students. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting regular checkups, taking a multivitamin—all of those are key to making sure that someday when you do become pregnant, you are entering that pregnancy in an optimal health state.”

In addition to the “A Healthy You = A Healthy Baby” campaign, Howard is also involved in the statewide collaborative being led by the New Jersey Hospital Association to improve perinatal care for the state’s mothers and newborns. The Perinatal Learning Cooperative will bring together hospital leaders, physicians, nurses, midwives, and others to meet regularly to discuss problems and challenges in perinatal care.

Links for further information:
The Department of Health and Senior Services

The Prenatal Care Task Force Report

Instructional posters for download