Tips For Prevention

This month is National Birth Defects Prevention Month -- learn how you can help prevent some of the more common birth defects and boost the odds in your (and your child’s) favor during pregnancy.

Pregnant woman stretching

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network established the month-long campaign to bring awareness to the most common birth defects and how physicians and mothers can help prevent them.

Preconception counseling

Before you get pregnant, see your doctor for preconception counseling. Your doctor can go over your immunization record and get you up to date on any that you need. Why is this important? Because some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can cause serious birth defects, and many cannot be administered to you once you’re pregnant.

Regular medical care

You can also discuss with your physician any regular medication that you take and if there is any danger to your fetus. If so, you can plan on a different medication to take if one is available. You’ll also want to make sure that any existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid issues, are under control.

Change your habits

Before you get pregnant, it’s the perfect time to drop bad habits, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking and recreational drug use. All put your baby at risk of birth defects, so early in pregnancy (or before you conceive) is the best time to stop.

Also, start taking a daily folic acid supplement to help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida or anencephaly. Boost your raw fruit and vegetable intake, and lower your processed food intake.

Start a healthy exercise routine -- as long as your doctor approves. Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight and to help keep excessive weight gain in check.

Maintain good hygenie

Some infections, especially early in your pregnancy, can also cause birth defects. You’ll want to practice excellent hygiene now and throughout your pregnancy -- wash your hands well with soap and water after using the restroom and before preparing and eating food. Wash fresh produce well, especially if you’re going to eat it raw.

More on health

Healthy pregnancy diet
Healthy pregnancy: Alternatives to caffeine
Relax! Having a healthy pregnancy

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