January is Birth Defects Prevention Month and while the month may be almost over, the campaign to help you prevent birth defects in your baby is not! Not all birth defects can be prevented, but there are ways a woman can increase her chances of having a healthy baby and preventing some types of birth defects. Before the month ends, we want to leave you with some steps you can take today to help prevent birth defects:
1. Prevent Infections
Some infections you can get during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby and cause birth defects. One easy step you can take to prevent infections is to be sure to wash your hands after using the bathroom and when preparing foods.
For more tips on how to prevent infections in your daily life, you can check out CDC’s tips on preventing infections during pregnancy by clicking here!
2. Avoid Drinking During Pregnancy
There is no known safe amount or kind of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. When you drink alcohol, so does your unborn baby. Alcohol is dangerous for mom and baby and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and other lifelong disorders.
3. Add 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid to Your Daily Diet
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is proven to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine, if taken daily for at least one month before pregnancy and during pregnancy. Women can get it from a supplement or from foods that contain folic acid.
4. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
A woman who is overweight before pregnancy is at higher risk for complications during pregnancy. It is important that you talk to your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.
5. See a Health Care Professional Regularly
As soon as you think you are pregnant, it is important to start your prenatal care. Keeping your appointments during pregnancy is the best way to know how your pregnancy is going. If something is not well, your doctor will be the best person to tell you what to do about it.
For more tips like these, check out CDC’s guide for preventing birth defects here.