January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and there is a lot of information to be had if you are pregnant or know someone who is and want to decrease your chances of having a child with a birth defect.
According to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network:
- Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States
- More than 120,000 babies born with a birth defect (approximately one in every 33 live births) are reported each year in the United States
- Birth defects are the most common cause of death in infants and the second most common cause of death in children ages one to four years old
- Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect. It occurs in one out of 100 births
Don’t let these statistics overwhelm you. The risk for many types of birth defects can be reduced through healthy lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant should:
- Consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
- Manage chronic maternal illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders or phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, as well as any supplements
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs
- See a health care provider regularly
- Avoid toxic substances at work or at home
- Know your family history and seek genetic counseling if appropriate
If you have additional questions or would like more information, make an appointment with one of Affinity’s OB/GYNs, midwives or genetic counselors: http://www.affinityhealth.org/Affinity/Services/Obstetrics-PregnancyChildbirth.