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Jan 18 2019

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month!

January is here, and what a great time to implement new healthy habits! January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the theme for 2019 is “Best For You. Best For Baby,” according to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN).

Birth defects are defined as “structural abnormalities that are present at birth that can cause physical disability, intellectual and developmental disability, and other health problems.” Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip and palate, and spina bifida. Not all birth defects can be prevented. In fact, one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. However, there are things you can do before and during pregnancy to increase your chances of having a healthy baby and a safe, healthy pregnancy.

According to the NBPDN, “women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before and during pregnancy” by making a “PACT” for prevention by:

  • Plan ahead
    • Get as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant.
    • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

  • Avoid harmful substances
    • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
    • Be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.

  • Choose a healthy lifestyle
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins.
    • Be physically active.
    • Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider
    • Get a medical checkup.
    • Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
    • Talk about your family medical history.

Other helpful tips include:
  • avoid traveling to a Zika-affected area
  • protect yourself from common infections
  • do not eat raw or undercooked foods,
  • do not change a cat’s litterbox to protect yourself from toxoplasmosis
  • keep your vaccinations up-to-date, including your flu shot
  • wash your hands often, especially before preparing food, after using the restroom, changing a diaper, or after sneezing or coughing
  • eat fortified foods
  • try to reach a healthy weight before getting pregnant

For more information, there are some great websites you can visit!

CDC - Birth Defects Prevention Month

NICHD - Birth Defects Prevention Month

March of Dimes - Birth Defects Prevention Month

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