January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Lamaze is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) and the March of Dimes to help inform families about birth defects -- most importantly, promoting tips and strategies that reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications.
Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of death for infants. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, anyone who could become pregnant or is pregnant can lower the risk of having a baby with birth defects by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. These include:
- Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
- Talk to your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
- Get up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.
- Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.
- Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
We cannot understate the importance of folic acid in preventing certain birth defects. The United States Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (400mcg or .4mg) of folic acid daily to prevent up to 50 - 70% of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
We encourage you to learn more about the ways you can help prevent birth defects, before and after pregnancy, by visiting the following evidence-based resource sites:
- Birth Defects Information and Resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Birth Defects Prevention Tips and Treatment from the March of Dimes
- 5 Infections to Know About from The Teratology Society
- All About Medications and Exposures from Mother To Baby
- Size Friendly Care Providers Guide from Plus Size Birth
- Resources for Families from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network