January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about the frequency with which birth defects occur in the United States
Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States. They are a leading cause of death among U.S. infants, accounting for about 20% of mortality in the first year of life. In addition, babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about the frequency with which birth defects occur in the United States and of the steps that can be taken to prevent them. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are things a women can do get ready for a healthy pregnancy.
- Be fit. Eat a healthy diet and work towards a healthy weight before pregnancy.
- Be healthy. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Be sure to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during early pregnancy. Work to get health conditions, like diabetes, in control before becoming pregnant.
- Be wise. Visit a health care professional regularly. Consult with your healthcare provider about any medications, including prescription and over-the counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements, before taking them.
Managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnancy can increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Follow these guidelines before and during pregnancy.