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National Birth Defects Prevention Month

With the right information and proper care, many birth defects can be prevented.

It is estimated that at least one in every thirty three babies are born with some type of physical or mental abnormality. This number is probably higher if you factor in babies with defects that are not overtly noticeable.

January is designated National Birth Defect Prevention Month to underscore the factors that may lead to birth defects by publicizing strategies for reducing possible disabilities and defects in unborn babies.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month brings the issues of birth defects to healthcare professionals and the general public, especially expectant mothers. It provides awareness and information that help increase the chances that a baby is born as healthy as possible.

Many birth defects are attributed to the way expectant mothers care for themselves and their unborn child, but many defects occur no matter how many precautions a mother takes. In other words, there is no way to guarantee that any baby will be born without an abnormality.

On the other hand, it is better to follow certain health related standards to decrease the chances of having a child born with defects. Certain defects are preventable through medical interventions and healthy lifestyle choices made before and during pregnancy.

It is imperative that all pregnant women seek the medical care of a physician and take all steps to ensure that their child is born as healthy as possible. Some of the most important and meaningful steps to prevent birth defects are:

  • See your physician on a regular basis.
  • Investigate your family tree to see if there is a history of birth defects.
  • Eat healthy foods and ask your doctor if you are getting the right nutrients.
  • Exercise regularly, but don't overdo it. Ask your doctor to prescribe an exercise regimen for you.
  • Avoid recreational drugs and alcoholic beverages.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Don't inhale toxic chemicals including household cleaning products and other substances that may have a harmful effect on an unborn child.
  • Don't take any medications, including over the counter medicines, when you are pregnant unless they are prescribed by your doctor.
  • If diabetic, make sure that your blood sugar is kept under control.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month spotlights prenatal care and birth defect prevention. It is also a time to let parents who have children who were born with birth defects know that there is a support network available.

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