National Birth Defects Prevention Month
National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Best for You. Best for Baby.
January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the theme this year is “Best for You. Best for Baby.” The campaign’s central concept is that doing what’s best for you is also beneficial for your unborn baby’s health because the two of you are irrevocably linked. Some birth defects are preventable, while others are not. Read on to discover tips for preventing birth defects and things to discuss with your healthcare provider during pregnancy and even before becoming pregnant.
What Are Birth Defects? How Common Are They in Pregnancies?
Birth defects affect about one out of every 33 babies born annually in the United States. Birth defects range from mild to severe and can involve anything from the heart or brain to other body organs. Some birth defects are visible, such as a cleft lip, while others are diagnosed during an ultrasound, x-ray, or another type of testing. Many birth defects occur during the first three months of pregnancy, as the baby is developing. However, not all birth defects are evident at birth. Some are detected within the baby’s first year. The cause of many birth defects remains a mystery, but there are certain things you can do as an expectant mother to ensure a safer pregnancy for you and your unborn child.
Try to Get to a Healthy Weight & Maintain It During Pregnancy
Because most women will experience significant weight gain during pregnancy, it’s essential to reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. Whether you’re overweight, underweight, or obese, you should discuss ways to maintain a healthy weight with your doctor. Eating a well-balanced diet and keeping physically active during pregnancy will help you minimize unhealthy weight gain, which is better for you and your baby in the long-term.
Avoid Harmful Substances (Alcohol & Tobacco) During Pregnancy
Because alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have devastating effects on a developing baby, you should avoid any potentially harmful substances during pregnancy. Alcohol use has been linked with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Smoking has been linked with cancer, heart disease, and many other health complications. If you’re ready to quit smoking, talk to your healthcare provider about treatments, counseling, and other support services.
Ensure You’re Up-to-Date with All Vaccines, Including the Flu Shot
Vaccines are not only beneficial to your health, but they can also protect your unborn baby from the flu and other severe illnesses. It is safe to get a flu shot before or during pregnancy. Another recommended vaccine is the Tdap vaccine (adult tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis), which protects against whooping cough. Typically administered during the last trimester of pregnancy, this vaccination passes helpful antibodies from a mother-to-be to her unborn child. It’s recommended that partners, spouses, and other family members in the home also get the Tdap vaccine before the baby arrives.
Expectant Mothers Require 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Daily
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is found in many fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Expectant mothers should get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. In addition to eating foods rich in folates, such as spinach or avocados, you may also eat enriched foods with folic acid, including certain pastas, breads, and cereals, and take vitamins that contain folic acid. Your body uses folic acid to create new cells, and it may be responsible for protecting babies against birth defects affecting the brain and spine.
Assess Any Health Risks with Your Doctor – Keep Up with Visits
Seeing your doctor for regular prenatal care appointments throughout your pregnancy is important. Your healthcare provider will monitor your baby’s development to keep an eye on potential risks and present you with treatment options as early as possible. Be sure to discuss any potential health risks with your doctor before becoming pregnant. If you have a family or personal history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or previous miscarriages or stillbirths, you could be considered a high-risk pregnancy. Letting your healthcare provider know about any issues upfront could keep you and your baby healthy.
An Experienced Personal Injury & Medical Malpractice Law Firm
In practice for nearly 50 years, Pegalis Law Group, LLC is a New York-based personal injury and medical malpractice law firm. We have helped our clients achieve some of the largest verdicts and settlements in state history. Please visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to receive updates and additional insights about how you can be proactive about your family’s healthcare.