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Top Tips to Prevent Birth Defects

baby being tested with stethosocpe

Every new mom wants to protect their baby’s health. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are steps that can increase the chances of delivering a healthy baby.

January is National Birth Defect Prevention month. According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly one in every 33 children is born with a birth defect. There are more than 4,000 kinds of birth defects, with varying levels of severity and required medical care.

Each year the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) chooses a theme to promote their cause. The 2018 theme presented by the NBDPN is “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.” The NBDPN outlines the following important steps for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Talk to your doctor

  • Ask your doctor or health care provider what you can do to prevent infections, including the Zika virus.
  • Get a medical checkup.
  • Discuss all medications.
  • Talk about family health history.

Properly prepare food

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food.
  • Do not eat raw or runny eggs or raw sprouts.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese, and other foods made from them.

Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus

  • Stay away from rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles.
  • Do not clean cat litter boxes.
  • When mosquitoes and ticks are active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Make sure to use bug spray with DEET or oil of lemon.

Maintain good hygiene

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially –

  • Before or after preparing or eating foods
  • After handling raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables
  • After being around or touching pets and other animals
  • After changing diapers or wiping runny noses

Choices you make about your health before and during pregnancy can greatly impact the health and well-being of your unborn child. Educating yourself on safe practices and risk factors will help you develop a plan for a healthy pregnancy.

For more great information, visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network’s website.

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