January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

  • Category: Health and Fitness

Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--January 7, 2013. Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States. They are a leading cause of death among U.S. infants, accounting for about 20% of mortality in the first year of life. In addition, babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about the frequency with which birth defects occur in the United States and of the steps that can be taken to prevent them.  While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are things a women can do get ready for a healthy pregnancy.

  • Be fit. Eat a healthy diet and work towards a healthy weight before pregnancy.
  • Be healthy. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Be sure to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during early pregnancy.  Work to get health conditions, like diabetes, in control before becoming pregnant.
  • Be wise. Visit a health care professional regularly. Consult with your healthcare provider about any medications, including prescription and over-the counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements, before taking them.

Managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnancy can increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Follow these guidelines before and during pregnancy. 

Selected Quotes

“Many people don’t realize how common birth defects are—they affect almost 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States. Most of us know someone affected by these conditions—a child born with cleft lip and palate; a young girl with Down syndrome; a co-worker who has lost a baby due to a severe heart defect.”
- Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, CDC’s Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

“Birth defects can have a serious physical and emotional impact, not only on those affected, but also on their families and communities. At CDC, we think about these people and their families and work to make a difference in their lives. We work to identify the causes of these conditions, find ways to prevent them, and help improve the health of people living with birth defects.”
- Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, CDC’s Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

“Although not all birth defects can be prevented, there are steps women can take to increase the chances of having a baby born without birth defects. Small steps like visiting a healthcare provider regularly and consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy can go a long way. Eating a healthy diet and working toward a healthy weight, keeping diabetes under control, quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke, and avoiding alcohol—all can help increase the chances of having a healthy baby. It’s also important to remember that many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so planning a pregnancy is key and can also help make a difference.”
- Leslie Beres, MSHyg, President, National Birth Defects Prevention Network

Related Links

CDC Resources:

Information for HCP/Scientific Audiences

Additional Resources:

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency.


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