Five Ways You Can Prevent Birth Defects
A healthy child is something every parent wishes for. Yet 1 in every 33 babies born in the U.S. has a birth defect and 20% of birth defects cause death. Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, so it is important to take preventative measures prior to conceiving. While many birth defects cannot be prevented, some can. Here are five ways to help prevent birth defects from happening.
- Take Folic Acid
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that helps a baby’s brain and spine develop in the first month of pregnancy. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it is essential that women take folic acid throughout their childbearing years. The recommended amount of folic acid that should be taken daily is 400mcg.
- Just Say No
Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking and drugs during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Certain medications can also be dangerous to an unborn child. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking or considering taking while pregnant.
- Keep Diabetes in Check
Diabetes, when not controlled properly, can cause a variety of problems for both the mother and unborn child. Women with uncontrolled Type 1 or 2 diabetes prior to and during the first trimester of pregnancy have an increased risk of birth defects.
- Maintain Proper Health
Keep unborn babies safe by preventing infections and maintaining overall health. Infections can cause birth defects so it is important to use proper hygiene to limit exposure. Pregnant women should avoid changing cat litter during pregnancy as well as eating uncooked meat, eggs and fish.
- Visit the Doctor
Since many birth defects can be prevented, it is essential that vaccinations be up to date prior to pregnancy. Prenatal care is an important component to ensuring a healthy baby is born and should be started as early as possible. Prenatal appointments should occur ever 4 weeks through the 28th week, then every 2 weeks through the 36th week and then once a week until delivery.
Pregnancy is an exciting time and we want to help ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. As a courtesy, we offer expectant moms one prenatal counseling session. During this appointment our provider will give guidance and assistance to help ensure a healthy baby is born. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers, call (910) 486-5437 or visit us online.