Birth Defects Prevention Month

Published: Jan. 10, 2020 at 3:34 PM CST
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January is Birth Defects Prevention Month and the North Dakota Department of Health is Partnering with organizations like March of Dimes and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network to give mothers information about how to prevent birth defects.

Every four and a half minutes a baby in the United States is born with a birth defect.

“We want to make sure that mom is aware of the steps she can take for prevention to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery," said Kimberly Hruby, director of Special Health Services.

Hruby says that by maintaining a relationship with their provider and taking steps to remain healthy through the pregnancy some birth defects can be prevented. The list of ways to reduce the chances of birth defects includes:

· Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day - Folic acid can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

· Visit with your health care provider before stopping or starting any medicine - There are often benefits to continuing treatment throughout pregnancy. Discussing a treatment plan before a pregnancy allows a woman and her health care provider to weigh the pros and cons of all options to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.

· Be up to date on your vaccinations, including the flu shot - Having the right vaccinations, like the flu and Tdap vaccines, at the right time during pregnancy can help keep a woman and her baby healthy.

· Reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant - obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications.

· Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

o No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy; exposure can cause major birth defects.

o Smoking during pregnancy can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and/or reach baby’s bloodstream.

o The opioid epidemic has led to a sharp increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, premature birth and drug withdrawal in developing babies.