Dr. Jeanne Conry is a Mom on a Mission!
September 25, 2013
Dr. Jeanne Conry is Healthy Child Healthy World’s September 2013 finalist for our Mom on a Mission® award. Read her first-person story below on how she became an advocate for children’s health.
This year, as I serve as the 64th president of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, I am sharing a message with my colleagues and with our nation’s leaders about the potential effects of environmental chemical exposures on the reproductive health of this generation and of generations to come. As obstetrician-gynecologists, we are in a unique position of trust that allows us to take on the role of educating our patients, the public, and legislators so that laws can be enacted to prevent the release of toxic chemicals into the environment.
Research suggests that most pregnant women in the US have measurable levels of chemicals (lead, mercury, bisphenol A, flame retardants) in their bodies that have the potential to affect the fetus. Many chemicals can pass through the placenta to the fetus. Some chemicals can interfere with fetal development and cause birth defects. Physicians have long recognized that such conditions as obesity and diabetes can cause birth defects and disrupt fetal development. Now, it is time for us to understand that health risks extend to a much broader definition that I call the “environment of care.”
As ACOG president, I have three major goals. First, we need to provide guidance to ob-gyns on best practices supported by research. This will allow us to advise our patients on reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals. Second, we need to advocate for legislation at the state and national levels that prevents the release of unstudied chemicals into the environment. And finally, we need to collaborate with our colleagues in other specialties so that our message about choices that affect a woman’s health is consistent.
I led California’s preconception health council that focuses on the issues we need to address to help ensure women are healthy when they conceive. Through those endeavors, ACOG is now leading efforts to minimize the health impacts of environmental chemicals on women and children. Over the past three years, I have made the environment a key new emphasis for the obstetrics community, thereby making it a national priority. Last October, the Pacific Southwest US EPA recognized my efforts when it presented me with the Children’s Environmental Health Award.
As ob-gyns, we must focus on improving the health of women before, during, and after pregnancy in order to improve maternal health, and ultimately, the health of our children. My mantra is Every Woman, Every Time. This simple statement means that we need to help women at every point of contact in our health care system. For Every Woman, Every Time!