January Is National Birth Defects Prevention Month
Prevention is you; Protection is your baby!
Every year, around 7.9 million infants (6% of all births globally) are born with birth defects. But where do these flaws originate? Some birth defects are hereditary, while others result from harmful environmental elements, yet others are dynamic interactions of genetic and environmental factors. However, the causes of nearly half of all birth defects remain unknown. A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. We know that not all birth defects are preventable. However, you may improve your chances of having a healthy baby by doing everything in your power to be healthy during pregnancy. The prevention you take will be the protection for the baby.
January is recognized as national birth defects awareness month. This is a moment to increase awareness of birth defects and to highlight efforts to improve the health of individuals living with these conditions across their lifespans.
What Are Birth Defects?
Worldwide, birth defects in newborns are a major cause of infant mortality. According to estimates, birth abnormalities cause 240 000 newborns to die worldwide within 28 days of birth yearly. Many birth defects can be treated or even cured, but some are irreversible and influence the child's quality of life. Birth defects are structural abnormalities that impact one or more body parts, including the heart, brain, hands, and feet. Most of these defects develop during the first three months of pregnancy while the organs of the unborn baby are developing but remember that they can even occur during the last few months. The reason may be due to the parent's health, exposure to harmful substances, and hereditary.
What Are The Causes And Risk Factors?
There are numerous causes of birth malformations. Although not all congenital abnormalities can be avoided, people can improve their chances of having a healthy baby by taking care of their health before getting pregnant and adopting healthy habits during pregnancy. Some of the major reasons for congenital disabilities are,
- Alterations in genes or chromosomes
- Harmful environmental elements
- Smoking or consuming alcohol and drugs
- Having certain health conditions
- Taking certain medications
- Delayed pregnancy
- Getting infections during pregnancy
Why Is Birth Defects Awareness Month 2023 Important?
Birth defects can profoundly affect individuals, parents, siblings, friends, and many others. But finding resources, knowing what to expect, what to do, and planning for the future can help prevent them. Increased awareness regarding the cause, the importance of screening during pregnancy, and prevention methods helps our future generations to live healthy and happy lives. Birth defect awareness is important throughout the lifespan and should make people aware of the following thing,
- Awareness of prevention strategies before and after pregnancy
- Awareness of survival and health of newborns with birth defects
- Awareness of educational needs and special healthcare requirements for children with birth abnormalities
- Awareness of the transition phase from pediatric to adult medical care for adolescents.
Importance Of Perinatal Screening And Care
Having a baby is a special, life-changing experience, but it can also present challenges for new parents. Though not all birth defects can be prevented, prenatal care and awareness can protect your unborn baby from the risks of birth defects. It also increases your chances of having a healthy baby. It is important to plan your pregnancy and incorporate all the prevention formulas from this birth defect awareness month. Here's what you can do to have a happy and healthy baby.
Things To Do Before Pregnancy
Get a preconception checkup: Talk with your doctor before planning the pregnancy to ensure that you are healthy to carry a baby. Discuss all your health conditions, medications that you are taking, and family history.
Get a vaccination analysis: Some vaccinations protect you from certain infections that can cause birth defects in your unborn baby. Make sure that you are fully vaccinated while planning for pregnancy. If you don't remember or have a record of your vaccinations, you can check your immunity level for infections with blood tests. Certain vaccines are necessary during pregnancy to prevent infections; discuss with your healthcare professional about those and plan a schedule priorly.
Take Folic Acid: Taking a vitamin supplement every day before and during early pregnancy can prevent your baby from neural tube defects. It also increases your chances of conception.
Get a healthy lifestyle: Heading to the gym or yoga, having a perfect sleep routine, and following a whole-nutrition diet during pregnancy is well and good. But following these when planning for pregnancy will make you ready to carry the baby and promote the baby's healthy life.
Things To Do During Pregnancy
Get regular screening: Your doctor may advise you for certain prenatal tests (blood tests and ultrasound scans) to check your baby for birth defects during pregnancy. Certain newborn screening tests are done after giving birth. Take all those screenings regularly. The major importance of these screenings is if any health condition is detected early, it can be cured.
Take Prenatal medications: Once you get pregnant, talk to your doctor and take all the prenatal vitamins essential for preventing congenital disabilities during the first trimester. Don't skip or stop your prenatal vitamins without the physician's knowledge.
Check your medicine box: Don't start or stop taking any medicine without informing your doctor during pregnancy, including over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, vitamins, and nutritional supplements. Doing this can cause serious birth defects in your child.
Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use harmful substances: Doing these can cause many harmful and severe congenital abnormalities in your baby.
Avoid unhealthy environments and foods: Certain environments may contain strong chemicals, pesticides, radiation, and smoke from cigars or other tobacco products. Avoid all these environments as possible. Consuming certain foods with high mercury levels, such as shark and mackerel fish, can cause birth defects in your baby.
Prevent infections: Getting affected by infections like zika virus, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) causes birth defects in your unborn baby. Don't travel to mosquito-prone areas, and avoid eating raw vegetables or uncooked meat to prevent yourself from infections.
Be That Lioness And Protect Your Cubs!
What is best for you will always be best for your baby. Protect your baby from birth defects by being aware of the condition, causes, and risk factors, the importance of screening, and most importantly, the prevention steps.