January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Jamaica Hospital would like to join the national effort to increase awareness about birth defects and what can cause them.
While not all birth defects are preventable, there are certain healthy behaviors that can be practiced to increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips for preventing birth defects:
- Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Most vitamins contain the recommended amount of folic acid, but women should check the label to be sure it contains 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid.
- Speak with your healthcare provider before you begin or stop taking any medicine. If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with a healthcare provider, such as your doctor or pharmacist. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your developing baby healthy.
- Remain up to date with all vaccines, including your flu shot. Vaccines help protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccine (also called Tdap) during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.
- Attempt to reach a healthy weight before getting pregnant. Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are overweight (or underweight), speak with your healthcare provider about ways to maintain a healthy weight before you become pregnant.
- Avoid harmful substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy can harm the developing baby and can cause certain birth defects. Alcohol can also cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy. Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her developing baby.
By following these recommended tips, you will be doing what is best for you and your baby.
Speak to your doctor about other ways to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Women’s Health Center, please call 718- 291-3276.