Starting all kids on the path to health

For newly pregnant women it can be daunting to learn that their health and weight before and during pregnancy may impact their future baby’s health, including the risk for obesity and diabetes later in life.

While all parents want the best for their children, conflicting information sometimes makes it hard to determine just what exactly is best.

With funding from the Government of Ontario, the Best Start Resource Centre, a key Health Nexus program, has developed a bilingual online resource to assist service providers in providing women and their partners with consistent, evidence-based prenatal key messages. The tool includes 25 topics covering health before conception, pregnancy, labour and birth, newborn and postpartum health.

By providing Ontario’s prenatal educators with a series of evidence-based, clear and consistent key messages on a wide variety of topics – including healthy eating, alcohol consumption and smoking during pregnancy – the Best Start Resource Centre and the Ontario government are helping to empower pregnant women to make informed decisions when it comes to their future child’s health and well-being.

The prenatal education key messages are part of Ontario’s Healthy Kids Strategy to improve children’s health and well-being.  Preconception and prenatal health are the foundation for lifelong health. Health promotion interventions during the preconception, prenatal and early infancy life stages have the potential for long-term impacts on health and weight.

If current trends in childhood obesity persist, by 2040 up to 70% of today’s children will be overweight or obese adults, placing them at increased risk for heart disease, cancer, strokes, psychosocial problems and type 2 diabetes. To build a brighter future, we need to act now as health before and during pregnancy is the foundation for health.

Across the province, prenatal education is provided by a mix of public health units, hospitals, health service providers and private sector organizations and may be offered in group, individual or online formats.

There are many ways to use the prenatal key messages available at ontarioprenataleducation.ca; also available in French at educationprenataleontario.ca. The online resource can be used as a quick reference for evidence-based information, or to develop or update a prenatal education curriculum. The key messages for each topic can be shared with clients directly and supporting evidence, resources and links are also provided.