Four Tips to Prevent Birth Defects
Birth defects affect one in 33 babies every year in the United States. While not all birth defects are preventable, women who are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant can follow these four tips to increase chances of having a healthy baby.
1. Do not drink, smoke or take drugs – This may seem like common sense, however, there are myths out there such as, “One glass of wine will not harm your baby.” The smallest amount of alcohol can lead to harmful effects long-term. Smoking can lead to sudden infant death syndrome, early labor and low birth weight. It is best to refrain from both drinking and smoking to prevent harming your baby.
2. Take folic acid and any other supplements your OB/GYN prescribes – “Folic acid is recommended before and during pregnancy because it can prevent birth defects that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord development,” says Dr. Willner “Taking folic acid up to a month prior to becoming pregnant can have an impact on having a healthy baby.”
3. Get vaccinated – Talk to your doctor about the vaccines you need to take to ensure you protect your baby from serious diseases. The flu shot and whooping cough are both safe vaccines to take while pregnant.
4. Visit your doctor on a regular basis and stay up-to-date with wellness checkups— Prenatal checkups are important because your doctor will make sure both you and your baby are healthy. These appointments will go over your baby’s growth, monitor your weight and provide a good time to talk about any symptoms or concerns you may have.
Taking preventative measures and maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and after pregnancy can have positive outcomes. If you are an expectant mother, or are planning on becoming pregnant, visit PIHHealth.org/Pregnancy to learn more about PIH Health’s medical team, pregnancy care and more.