What Steps Can Women Take for Healthier Babies Not
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Want to Know More? What Steps Can Women Take for Healthier Babies? • Ask your health care provider or local health department how to plan for a healthy Impor t ant Inf orma tion Import Informa ormation Not all birth defects can be prevented. But baby. a woman can increase her own chance of About... having a healthy baby. Many birth defects • Call the March of Dimes Resource Center happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes at 1-888-663-4637 (toll-free), or visit: before a woman even knows she is www.modimes.org pregnant. Remember that about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Therefore, • Call the Centers for Disease Control and every woman should: Prevention (CDC) at 1-888-232-6789 (toll- free), e-mail email@example.com, or visit: Take a multivitamin that has 400 mcg www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid of folic acid in it every day. Have regular medical check-ups. • Call OTIS (Organization of Teratology Information Services) at 1-888-285-3410 Talk to her health care provider about (toll-free) for a referral to the nearest any medical problems and medicine use service or visit www.otispregnancy.org for (both over-the-counter and information about exposures during prescription). Ask about avoiding any substances at work or at home that pregnancy. might be harmful to a developing baby. • Call the Birth Defects Registry or Genetics Keep vaccinations (shots) up-to-date. Program at your state health department. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs. While pregnant: Preventing Keep up these healthy habits. Get early prenatal care and go to The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) is a national network of individuals working at local, state, and national levels in birth Birth Defects every appointment. defects surveillance, research, and prevention. www.nbdpn.org/NBDPN 2002 version What are Birth Defects? How Serious are Birth Defects? Better health care for mothers with problems Birth defects are abnormal conditions that Birth defects are a serious problem. One like diabetes or happen before or at the time of birth. in 33 babies is born with a birth defect. seizures can improve Some are mild–like an extra finger or toe. Many people believe that birth defects their chances of having Some are very serious– only happen to other people. Birth defects healthy babies. like a heart defect. They can and do happen in any family. About Immunization prevents can cause physical, 120,000 babies born in the U.S. each year infections like German mental, or medical prob- have birth defects. measles (rubella) that lems. Some, like Down can harm unborn babies. syndrome or sickle cell anemia, are caused by genetic factors. Others are caused by certain Did You Know? drugs, medicines, or chemicals. The causes of All women who could get pregnant most birth defects are still a mystery. should get 400 micrograms (sometimes Researchers are working hard to learn the written as 400 mcg or 0.4 mg) of folic causes of birth defects so we can find acid every day to help prevent some ways to prevent them. types of serious birth defects. Folic acid is a B-vitamin that can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. Did You Know? Today, babies born with birth defects can • Birth defects are the leading cause of What is the Good News? live longer and healthier lives. Special care death in children less than 1 year of The good news is that new ways of after birth and newborn screening tests can age–causing one in every five deaths. preventing and treating birth defects are help some of these babies. • 18 babies die each day in the U.S. as being found. Many states keep track the result of a birth defect. Genes that may cause birth defects are of how often and where being found every day, providing hope birth defects happen. • Defects of the heart and limbs are the for new treatments and cures. Genetic Your state may be able most common kinds of birth defects. counseling can provide parents with to tell you about birth information about their risks based on defects and services that • Millions of dollars are spent every family history, age, ethnic or racial may help you or some- year for the care and treatment of background, and other factors. one you know. children with birth defects.