January 2015 is National Birth Defects Prevention Month! The theme is "Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects - Make a PACT for Prevention."
Birth defects are common, costly and critical. All women, including teens, can make healthy choices that increase their chances of having a healthy baby. Make a PACT for prevention by Planning ahead, Avoiding harmful substances, Choosing a healthy lifestyle and Talking to your doctor.
Birth defects are common, costly and critical.
Every 4½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect. Professionals, community groups and the public can act to reduce the risk of certain birth defects, detect those that occur as soon as possible and prevent secondary complications.
Not all birth defects can be prevented; however, all women, including teens, can lower their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. .
What are Birth Defects?
Birth defects are abnormal conditions that happen before or at the time of birth. Some are mild–like an extra finger or toe. Some are very serious–like a heart defect. They can cause physical, mental, or medical problems. Some, like Down syndrome or sickle cell anemia, are caused by genetic factors. Others are caused by certain drugs, medicines or chemicals.
But the causes of most birth defects are still a mystery. Researchers are working hard to learn the causes of birthdefects so that we can find ways to prevent them.
Did You Know?
How Serious are Birth Defects?
One in 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Many people believe that birth defects only happen to other people. Birth defects can and do happen in any family. About 120,000 babies in the U.S. each year have birth defects.
What Steps Can Women Take to Prevent Birth Defects? Avoid harmful substances
Certain substances, such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs, can increase the risk for some types of birth defects. Some substances in the workplace or home have also been linked to birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, avoiding these exposures before and during pregnancy can help increase your chances for a healthy baby. In the United States, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned. If you do get pregnant unexpectedly, you might expose your baby to alcohol or other harmful substances before you realize you are pregnant. This is because a woman can be pregnant and not know it for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
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