Your Guide for Reducing Your Risk for Birth Defects

Birth defects are more common than you may think. In fact, about 1 in 33 babies born in the US has a birth defect, according to the CDC.

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can take steps that will increase the likelihood of giving birth to a healthy baby. These steps begin even before a woman becomes pregnant. If you are planning to become pregnant and have some concerns, here is your guide for reducing your risk for birth defects.

doctor performing ultrasound on pregnant patient

Getting Healthy Before Pregnancy

One of the best ways to prepare for pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child is to take folic acid every day. Specifically, a woman should take 400 mcg or micrograms of folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9, a month prior to becoming pregnant, and then throughout the pregnancy.

Folic acid helps prevent defects of the brain and spine. You can get the recommended dosage of this vitamin from fortified foods or from supplements, including several types of complex B vitamins. For those who prefer smoothies, there are many different recipes available that are packed full of folic acid.

Do Not Drink Alcohol During Your Pregnancy

This includes all kinds of alcohol, including beer and wine. Alcohol will pass from your bloodstream through the umbilical cord to the fetus. There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy, nor is there a safe amount of alcohol to consume. Even the smallest amount can harm your growing baby.

Drinking can result in a stillbirth, miscarriage, and all types of physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.  These defects caused by alcohol are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Just some of these disorders include the following:

  • Smaller than normal size
  • Small head
  • Low body weight
  • Poor memory
  • Learning disabilities and low IQ
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Issues with the heart, kidneys, and bones

Don’t Smoke

Another unhealthy habit to break is smoking. If you smoke during pregnancy, it can lead to preterm birth, birth defects like a cleft palate, or even infant death. If you don’t smoke, avoid being around those who do smoke. It’s never too late to quit smoking.

Get Vaccinations and Prevent Infections

Make sure that you are up to date with all recommended vaccinations, especially the flu shot and a Tdap shot for whooping cough. Consult with Women’s Health Partners about the best timing for any vaccinations to protect you and your baby from potential infection. A flu shot has been shown to protect mom and baby from the flu for up to six months after birth.

Become Best Friends with Women’s Health Partners

Schedule a visit with your provider before you become pregnant as they will be able to provide you with answers to all of the most common questions that many of our patients have regarding birth defects!

Discuss whether you are at a healthy weight, or if it may be best to drop a few pounds before pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects.  Find out about what prescription or OTC medications you should and should not take during your pregnancy. Ask about precautions to take against West Nile Virus and other infections that can cause problems during pregnancy.

Find out about your health conditions and if you have any risk factors that would increase your risk of having a child with birth defects. Is your diabetes or blood pressure under control?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding infections, alcohol, smoking, or any other drug that can cause harm to your growing baby should be your guide.

Contact Women’s Health Partners if you are planning to get pregnant and want to learn how to reduce your risk for birth defects.

If you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (561) 368-3775 or request an appointment online today!

Your Safety and Well-being is our Priority

On behalf of all of us at Women’s Health Partners, in these difficult times, we want to thank you for your support and confidence in our practice.

We want you to personally know that our patients’ health and well-being has and always will be our number one priority. This reminder bears repeating in the face of any challenges and especially now, given concerns posed by the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure your safety and well-being and that of our staff. To that end, we want to share some of the steps we are taking:

Furthermore, our staff will be asking several screening questions regarding your health. We ask that you do not enter our office if you, or someone in your family, or someone you recently were in contact with, has exhibited flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, severe muscle aches, shaking chills, or recent loss of taste or smell, or recently diagnosed with COVID19.

In order to help us participate with our social distancing effort, we are asking patients to enter the office without any visitors, including children.

You will also have the option of waiting in your car instead of the waiting room after you have checked in. The front desk staff will call your cell phone when we are ready for you to come in for your visit.

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