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Prevent Birth Defects – Steps for Healthy Pregnancy

It's a disturbing statistic, especially for expectant mothers: Each year in the United States, about 150,000 babies are born with one or more birth defects.  What's equally disturbing is that the causes of more than 60 percent of these birth defects are unknown. The good news, however, is that, even though the causes are often not known, there are steps a mother can take to dramatically decrease the chances of birth defects. 

Your first step is to educate yourself. Go to the library or to your physician and get as much material as you can about the subject. These will help you develop a strategy that will ensure a healthy new baby.

Once you've made yourself aware and informed about the situation, it's time to take some decisive steps. There are several things a new mom can do to make it more likely that your pregnancy is a healthy one and that your baby is born free of defects. 

A few of these suggestions will involve some life changes--but they will be worth it to keep your child safe and healthy. Awareness and education are the first steps to preventing birth defects. The immediate step following awareness and education is taking action. Here are the ideas that most physicians would suggest.  

  1. You must, more than anything else, maintain good preconception health. This will require healthy eating (Avoid the junk food and eat nutritious, balanced meals), as well as a daily multivitamin containing 400mcg of folic acid.

  2. Cut unhealthy activities such as tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and excessive amounts of caffeine out of your life.

  3. If you're not yet pregnant, but are sexually active, remember to take a multivitamin each day, in anticipation of the day when you do become pregnant.  This will help you reach a healthy state that will work towards a healthy future pregnancy.

  4. Each year, plan to receive a gynecological-wellness exam.

  5. If you have a family history that includes birth defects, or if you're age 35 or older, it's a wise idea to get birth-defect screening as well as genetic counseling.
Each year, plan to recognize Birth Defects Prevention Month in January.  During that month, encourage your family to research the subject at the public the library or off the Internet.  Once the public becomes educated enough about the subject, birth defects will become less and less a part of our national experience.
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