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National Birth Defects Prevention Month
Posted by Scott filed under Healthcare Observance
January is designated Birth Defects Prevention Month to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy conditions during pregnancy to stop birth defects. Not all birth defects are completely preventable, but Birth Defects Prevention Month intends to help stop those that can be.
Awareness and education of birth defects are the best ways to prevent them, so during January, you should try to educate yourself on the causes and prevention of birth defects.
What Exactly is a Birth Defect?
Birth defects are conditions that are present at birth. Some, like a club foot, are obvious. Some can only be detected with tests, and some do not develop until later in the baby’s life. Different birth defects have different causes. Some are caused by genes passed down by the parents, while others are caused by exposure during pregnancy to certain medications and chemicals.
There are certain factors that may increase the chance of giving birth to a baby with birth defects, including:
- Mother’s age
- Previous birth to a child with a birth defect
- Family history of birth defects
- Medical condition such as diabetes
- Recreational drug use or during pregnancy
- Alcohol use during pregnancy
Having these risk factors does not mean that a woman will give birth to a baby with birth defects. Like all pregnant women, if you have these risk factors, it is important to see your doctor to talk about a plan.
Every pregnant woman has a chance she will have a baby with birth defects. Not every birth defect can be prevented, but some can:
- Take folic acid. Folic acid is important during pregnancy as it can prevent problems with the baby’s brain and spine. The CDC recommends pregnant women take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
- Eat well balanced and nutritional meals
- Be aware of the effect of medicines on pregnancy. Some women need medicines to stay healthy, but some medicines can have a negative effect on the baby. Be sure to talk with your providers about a treatment plan
- Be sure you’re up to date on vaccines
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs while pregnant
- Get a screening for birth defects
ACOG. (2018). “Reducing Risk of Birth Defects.” Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Reducing-Risks-of-Birth-Defects?IsMobileSet=false
American Pregnancy Association. (2017). “Preventing Birth Defects.” Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/birth-defects/community-birth-defects-prevention/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). “National Birth Defects Prevention Month.” Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/prevention-month.html