January is Birth Defects Prevention Month
Birth defects are common, costly and critical. Every 4½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect. Professionals, community groups and the public can act to reduce the risk of certain birth defects, detect those that occur as soon as possible and prevent secondary complications.
Not all birth defects can be prevented; however, all women, including teens, can lower their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. This year we encourage all women to make a PACT for their own health and the family they may have one day.
- Get as healthy as you can before you get 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, lean proteins, and healthy fats and oils.
- Be physically active.
- Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.
Talk to your doctor
- Get a medical checkup.
- Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Talk about your family history.
Women and their loved ones can participate in their PACT and take these important preventive steps that can lead to a reduction in the number of birth defects.
The National Birth Defects Prevention Network in collaboration with many state and local organizations are working together to share in a nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects, their causes and their impact. Become an active participant in National Birth Defects Prevention Month and continue your efforts throughout the year. Learn more about the effect you can have on birth defects at www.nbdpn.org/bdpm2015.php.