Lower the Risk for Birth Defects

BeSmartBeWell.com highlights pregnancy risks during Birth Defects Prevention Month

Pregnancy is an exciting time filled with hopeful anticipation, and most pregnancies are uneventful and result in healthy babies. Pregnancy, however, is not entirely without risk, leading some expectant parents to worry about birth defects and whether they’ll give birth to a healthy baby.

Many birth defects are minor and easily treated. But about one in every 33 babies is born with a major birth defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Major birth defects may have a serious impact on development, functional ability and overall health. Throughout January, which is Birth Defects Prevention Month, BeSmartBeWell.com highlights pregnancy risks and preventable birth defects. At BeSmartBeWell.com medical experts, and real-life expectant moms, like Sharon, share information to help lower the risk for birth defects.

“There are some risks [associated with pregnancy],” says Sharon in a video on the site. “But there’s a lot that I can do to make sure that I’m minimizing any chances of problems. And that’s exactly what I’m committed to doing.”

Understanding the risks

Some birth defects are caused by genetic factors. In addition, women over 35 and those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and/or obesity, are more likely to have a baby with a birth defect.

But no matter what your age or current health, there are steps you can take to increase the chances of a healthy baby.

 -Even before you’re pregnant, start taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day.

 -Don’t drink alcohol or smoke.

 -Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.

 -Talk to your healthcare provider about your medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and learn which are safe to take during pregnancy.

And if you have a health condition, work with your healthcare team to make sure it’s under control before you become pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.

“My first pregnancy was challenging,” says expectant mom Melissa in a video on the site. “I learned a lot about my diabetes through that experience. It’s so important [to become educated] because it’s not just affecting me, it’s affecting my child.”

To learn more, visit BeSmartBeWell.com.