The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named January as Birth Defects Awareness Month and it’s also designated as Birth Defects Prevention Month in the U.S. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate birth defects, there are children and families who are facing that hardship unnecessarily.
Many birth defects can be prevented if parents are armed with the right knowledge before conception. That’s why part of the awareness drive in January was about getting vaccinations to prevent infections that can lead to lifelong consequences for babies.
But that’s not the only thing parents can do to cut their baby’s risk. Here are 3 things that all parents should consider when trying to start a family:
All too often, it’s easy to dismiss complications and hardships as something that will happen to someone else. Many parents mistakenly believe birth defects will never happen to their baby.
But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Birth defects are far more common than some people believe them to be.
There will be one birth defect for approximately every 33 babies born. That adds up to 150,000 children annually who will have to face challenges no child should have to.
While some of these birth defects will be minor, some will be life-threatening and, at the very least, life-changing for those children and their families. It’s a sad fact that birth defects are the number one cause of fatalities for children under the age of 1.
Going to the doctor isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. It can be costly, inconvenient, and difficult to arrange sometimes with demanding employers who hate to see their employees off of work for any reason. But, in the case of pregnancies, those doctor’s appointments are essential, even if you don’t believe your pregnancy has any problems or complications.
On average, for an uncomplicated pregnancy, a pregnant woman should see their obstetrician 10 to 15 times. If there are complications, the number of visits will be much higher than that.
Tobacco isn’t a good idea for anyone, but when you have a susceptible life growing inside you, the stakes are even higher. It’s vitally important to avoid tobacco while pregnant to give your baby its best chance at a healthy start.
Alcohol is another substance that has been linked to birth defects. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should cut out all alcohol. If you suspect you might be pregnant, give it up until you know for sure. Those drinks aren’t worth the price your baby may pay for them.
Drugs of any kind, whether they are illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter, can cause a variety of birth defects. If you learn you’re pregnant and you are using some sort of drug, speak to your doctor immediately about what your next step should be.
Preventing birth defects is a great goal to aspire to, and it’s one people should keep in mind throughout the year, not just for one month annually. Spending a few minutes on education may prevent a devastating birth defect, and there’s no better use of your time than that.
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