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National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Healthy Choices May Lead to Prevention of Birth Defects

National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Healthy Choices May Lead to Prevention of Birth Defects

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are a few healthy choices you can make to help prevent birth defects.   

  1. Plan ahead. 

Be sure to get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. You can find folic acid in fortified foods or supplements. By intaking 400 mcg of folic acid, you can ensure your baby’s proper development and growth! 

Make appointments to see your doctor regularly. By doing so, you and your doctor can stay up-to-date on your needs during your pregnancy, as well as be aware if any issues come up. If you have any indication that something may be wrong, contact a healthcare professional immediately.  

  1. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes marijuana, and other drugs

Alcohol: There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, so it’s important to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant and during your pregnancy. 

Tobacco: Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Smoking during pregnancy can also harm the developing baby and can cause certain birth defects. Quitting smoking will help you feel better and provide a healthier environment for your baby. 

Marijuana: Preterm births, low birth weight for babies, and other health problems can all be caused by using marijuana while pregnant. There is currently no amount of marijuana that is “healthy” to use while pregnant, so expecting mothers should speak to their doctor about this risk. 

Other Drugs: Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her developing baby. A healthcare provider can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services. 

  1. Make healthy lifestyle choices. 

Control your diabetes: Inadequate management of diabetes throughout pregnancy elevates the risk of birth defects and other complications for both the baby and the mother. Ensuring proper healthcare before and during pregnancy is crucial.  

Strive to maintain and reach a healthy weight: Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are underweight, overweight, or have obesity, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Focus on a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. 

  1. Ask questions about vaccinations (shots). 

It is shown that most vaccinations are safe to receive during pregnancy. In fact, the flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccine are recommended to be administered to a mother while she is pregnant. If the flu shot is given to the mother during her pregnancy, both baby and mother can be protected against the flu for up to 6 months after birth. Infections can be prevented by receiving certain vaccines.