Asking One Key Question

Asking One Key Question

November 14, 2016

Written by: LIHF Health Care Access One Key Question Co-Chairs (Jessica Gathirimu, City of Milwaukee Health Department and Dr. Ken Schellhase, Children’s Community Health Plan & Medical College of Wisconsin)

When you go to the doctor for a regular check-up, you might expect the doctor to ask you about how you are sleeping, if you are exercising, or if you are having any pain. You might be surprised if the doctor asked if you are interested in becoming pregnant in the next year, but this is exactly what health care providers have started asking women across the city of Milwaukee.

According to the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey of new mothers, almost 40% of all pregnancies in Milwaukee were either unintended or mistimed. Unintended pregnancies are associated with poor birth outcomes, including prematurity and infant mortality. When women do not know that they are pregnant, they are more likely to continue engaging in risky behaviors, like alcohol consumption and tobacco use, and may not receive early prenatal care – all which can contribute to preterm birth.

Asking One Key Question® (“Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?”) provides an opportunity for health care providers to start conversations with women about pregnancy long before they get pregnant. Depending on each woman’s answer, their doctor will work with them to achieve their desired outcome whether that is to become pregnant or not in the next year thus increasing intended pregnancies that lead to healthy birth outcomes.

While health care providers in Milwaukee have started asking One Key Question®, you don’t have to wait for your doctor to ask. If you are interested in becoming pregnant in the next year, talk to your doctor about how to best prepare for pregnancy, including taking a daily vitamin with folic acid, quitting tobacco, and eating healthy. If you are not interested in getting pregnant this year, ask your doctor about what contraception options might be best for you to ensure that you don’t get pregnant. For more information on One Key Question®, please visit //

One Key Question® was developed by the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health and is an implementation project of the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) Health Care Access Committee. United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County serves as the backbone agency for the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative. The goal of the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative is to reduce Milwaukee’s overall infant mortality rate by 10% in 2017, and by 15% for African-American babies. Milwaukee LIHF is focused on preventing prematurity as nearly 60% of infant deaths in Milwaukee are directly associated with prematurity.

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