December is National Birth Defects Month!

"Birth defects are not uncommon, although every parent hopes and prays for a healthy baby. Many tests these days can help to predetermine certain kinds of birth defects, such as heart defects, spina bifida, or even downs syndrome. One in every thirty-three babies is born with birth defects, which unfortunately accounts for one out of every five babies dying as a result of complications from the defects.

In many cases, the babies who have birth defects may not be revealed until the child grows. Heart defects or autism, for example are sometimes not revealed until the baby gets older and develops into toddler stages. Family history does not mean that a baby will or will not be more likely to have birth defects, and sometimes it is the care that the mother receives during pregnancy that may cause the potential for these things to happen.

For example, women are strongly encouraged to take prenatal vitamins, especially with folic acid before and during pregnancy. But because nearly half of all pregnancies in the country are unplanned, this is often advice that is too little, too late.

Women who may be trying to conceive are strongly encouraged to start taking prenatal vitamins even prior to becoming pregnant. They should check with their prenatal specialist or perform research to determine how much is the best dose, since taking too much can also become problematic. This important nutrient contributes to cell growth; therefore being too deficient can lead to underweight babies, digestive disorders, anemia, or even behavioral issues and stunted growth.

New parents and even veteran parents both have equal chance to have a healthy baby, but the whole reason that the idea of National Birth Defects Month exists is to create awareness of measures that can be taken to lessen the chances for it. Some obvious things, such as not smoking or drinking alcohol or taking narcotics and prescription medication are also a fact that women need to be aware of. If there is any chance that you may be expecting a child, then for the sake of the baby, quit all types of these habits for the sake of your unborn child! Drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and many types of prescription medications or narcotics can cause severe and irreversible birth defects.

If you have an interest in learning more about Birth Defect Prevention, visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website."

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