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5 Health Reminders in Honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s theme is “Best for you. Best for Baby.”  Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States, so Supplementally Speaking is joining with leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, Teratology Society and MotherToBaby to help increase awareness of steps to take to reduce the chances of having a baby with a birth defect. 1  

You can help us increase awareness by sharing these tips with friends and family. You can also share these messages on social media using #Best4YouBest4Baby.

Reach your ideal weight before you get pregnant. Babies of overweight mothers have an increased risk of congenital malformations2, and being overweight is associated with having a more difficult labor3

Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.  Having enough folic acid in your system helps prevent neural tube defects in your baby. You can take a daily multivitamin to ensure you are getting enough, and try to eat foods rich in folic acidlink opens in a new window. Remember, folic acid is water soluble and leaves your system quickly, so it needs to be replenished every day.

Discuss medications with your doctor as soon as possible.  Do not stop taking your medication when you find out you’re pregnant, and do not start taking any new medications-even over the counter-unless your doctor says it’s OK.

Get your flu shot. And, talk to your doctor about making sure you have other vaccines onboard that will protect both you and your baby.  See New Study Confirms Importance of the Flu Vaccine for more reasons to get your flu shot.

Kick bad habits. Exposure to alcohol, dangerous chemicals from smoking and vaping and drugs not authorized by your doctor are all known to cause major birth defects. There has been a sharp increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is premature birth and drug withdrawal in developing babies, due to the opioid addiction.1

While the vast majority of babies are born healthy, National Birth Defects Prevention Month reminds us that there are choices we can make and actions we can take to try to decrease the rate of birth defects.



1 “National Birth Defects Prevention Network.” Folic Acid Awareness Week - National Birth Defects Prevention Network, opens in a new window
2 Kmietowicz, Z. (2017, June 15). Risk of major birth defects rises with severity of mother's overweight. Retrieved from opens in a new window
3 The Effects of Obesity in Labor and Delivery. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window