Some birth defects can be prevented

One in 33 babies are born with a birth defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January is Birth Defect Prevention Month across the U.S. Though all birth defects cannot be prevented. With knowledge and prevention in mind, some can. Every preventative measure parents-to-be take will help assure the healthiest start possible for their child. In the long run, the steps taken will benefit everyone in the family. It might not always be convenient to do what you need to do, it will be worth it for your baby’s sake and for yours.

Some people are stubborn and won’t make the needed changes, the healthiest choices. But something to take away from this discussion is that when you become a parent, your child takes center stage in your life. You are obligated to and responsible for this new little person for a long while. You can make it easier on yourself later by what you do now, before pregnancy and during pregnancy.

A defect is a shortcoming, an imperfection, or a lack of something. Some defects can be fixed. Some defects can be prevented. Some defects last a lifetime.

Preventable birth defects are those that affect the development of the brain and spine, conditions like anencephaly and spina bifida. It is now recommended that women who plan to become pregnant, and all through pregnancy, take 400 mcg of folic acid daily to promote healthy brain and spine development of the fetus, says the CDC. Speak to your health care professional about what is best for you.

Avoid harmful substances. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Consuming alcohol, including beer, can result in miscarriage, still birth or any of the FASDs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) which affect the child physically, behaviorally and intellectually for all of their lifetime … and the parents’ lifetimes. All that is required to prevent FASDs is to not consume alcohol during pregnancy.

Marijuana use also can affect the baby’s health and well being. There is no safe amount to use during pregnancy. The CDC recommends talking to your health care provider if you use medicinal marijuana to determine what you should do.

Minimize exposure to infections. Your health care provider may recommend certain vaccines during pregnancy to prevent you passing infections to your baby, things like whooping cough, T-dap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and flu, and the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccination.

You and your health care provider will want to consider screenings for pre-existing conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and to look at family health history for potential risk factors. A healthy, nutritionally sound died is good for everyone, but important for pregnant women and the babies they carry.

Mosquito-borne diseases also are harmful to the fetus, leading to things like congenital infection, severe brain defects, premature birth and death. Avoid standing water where mosquitoes collect at feeding time. Wear protective clothing when they are around. Also, you might want to stay inside where it is cool or the area is screened.

All birth defects can’t be prevented, but with knowledge, you can prevent some of them. Control your health issues, eat nutritiously, maintain a healthy weight and plan for your future with the child you are loving and protecting during pregnancy.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org.