January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, organized by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN). A birth defect is something no parent wants to think about, but it's important to talk about! Birth defects are common, and cause additional emotional, financial, and health issues. While not every birth defect can be prevented, families who are trying to conceive and who are pregnant can make healthy choices and habits to help lower the risk of having a baby born with a birth defect. This year, NBDPN created a simple and clever guide for families. See below to learn more about making a "PACT."
- 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 healthcare provider
- Get a medical checkup.
- Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Talk about your family medical history.
For more information, including specific tips on how to "plan ahead" to prevent birth defects and how to get your partner actively involved, visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website. You and your family can participate in a PACT by taking these important steps toward a healthy pregnancy. Become an active participant in Naitonal Birth Defects Prevention Month by sharing your own tips for healthy pregnancy using #LivingMyPACT on social media, as well as sharing resources on birth defect prevention from www.nbdpn.org/bdpm2016.php.