National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Por Sherrie Pratt, Media & Communications Specialist

Bringing a baby into the world is one of the most beautiful moments in life. But sometimes, new babies face challenges due to birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Central Florida Health Care encourages making healthy choices during pregnancy to help reduce a baby’s chance of having a birth defect.

If you’re planning to have a baby, take 400 micrograms of Folic Acid, which contains vitamin B, before and during pregnancy. Taking folic acid can help prevent severe birth defects in the brain and spine. It’s also important to have a diet rich in folate.

Central Florida Health Care’s Chief of Pediatrics Heather Wardy says, “Birth defects can be caused by genetic abnormalities or environmental exposures, though we often don’t know the underlying etiology. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but women can take steps to reduce their risk. It’s important to establish care with your OB provider as soon as you know you’re pregnant, and then continue to receive regular prenatal care. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid is the best tool to help prevent abnormalities of your baby’s brain and spine. If you take other medications, check with your OB provider to make sure they’re safe to take during pregnancy.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Intervention says smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth and certain defects, including cleft lip or cleft palate, which is why no smoking is encouraged, including marijuana. Alcohol can also be harmful and potentially cause a miscarriage, stillbirth, and other lifelong physical and behavioral issues. Preventing infections during pregnancy is also important, as viruses and other infections can harm a developing baby. If you do get sick with a fever, treat it promptly.

While it sounds simple to “eat healthy” during pregnancy, it’s not always easy, especially when cravings are involved. Obesity and not keeping diabetes under control can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and could lead to birth defects. Talk to your provider about the best way to maintain a healthy weight.

Central Florida Health Care has prenatal services to guide pregnant moms along their journey. Our pediatric team is then ready to oversee your baby’s primary care. Communication with your provider is important and will hopefully give you peace of mind.