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National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January in National Birth Defects Prevention Month. This is such an important education program for anyone who wants to start a family.

In the U.S., about 1 in 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year. Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, cleft palate, and spina bifida.

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by taking care of your health, and by adopting healthy habits before and during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control offers these five tips for preventing birth defects:

  • Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
  • Talk to your doctor before stopping or starting any medicine. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your baby healthy.
  • Become up-to-date with all vaccines. Vaccines can help protect you and your baby against serious diseases. They also recommend that you get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccine.
  • Try to reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications.
  • Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her baby. If you can’t stop using these substances on your own – get help!