Preventing birth defects requires a bit of awareness on the mother’s part. Although, one cannot totally prevent birth defects from occurring, but a few precautionary measures will help reduce the chances to a great extent. Learn all about how to prevent birth defects by going through the health article covered below.
Every year, there are about 160,000 babies born with a birth defects in the United States. The number is quite startling as most of these birth defects cause life long physical and mental damage to the child. Also, these birth defects are irreversible and the baby has to live with these issues all its life. These disabilities include a range of problems like learning disabilities, behavioral problems, neural tube defect, anencephaly, etc. One cannot prevent all types of birth defects from occurring, but one can at least take some steps that helps decrease the chances of developing them. There are a many types of birth defects that occur due to unknown causes. However, there are many things that a mother could do to make sure her baby remains healthy. Preventing birth defects becomes easy when one is properly educated as well as aware of the factors that helps reduce the chances of birth defects in a baby.
Before one gets pregnant, it is important to visit a doctor for guidance. Pre-pregnancy visits as well as care helps the mother know important facts that helps her make sure her baby is born healthy. Also, after one conceives, it is very important to visit the doctor regularly for antenatal care. This helps monitor the pregnancy at each step and makes sure of the well-begin of the growing fetus. In this HerHaleness article, we shall cover some important tips on how to prevent birth defects. Following these tips will make sure the baby is born safe and healthy. These tips will educate you regarding some ill effects of certain life styles and make you aware about preventing these harmful habits. Once you are aware, it will be easier for you to take action and prevent birth defects from occurring.
Preventing Birth Defects in Babies
Most of the birth defects occur during the early trimester of pregnancy. In some cases, birth defects occur even before the mother knows she is pregnant. Thus, education and awareness regarding prevention of these birth defects is very important. Let us have a look at the major steps a woman should take in order to bring to term a healthy pregnancy.
✓ Take Supplements for Folic Acid
It has been found not enough women are aware that consuming enough of folic acid helps in prevention of birth defects. Studies have shown only 28% women of childbearing age were aware about consumption of folic acid for preventing birth defects. Folic acid helps in prevention of serious brain and spine defects. Thus, it is important one starts taking folic acid supplements before and after getting pregnant. One needs to consume about 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Include bread, crackers, tortillas, etc. made from enriched and fortified white flour.
✗Stop Smoking Completely
One is aware of the dangers of smoking. It is also important to note, smoking not only affects the mother’s health, but also the baby’s health. The cigarette smoke can cause cleft plate or infant death, that is, miscarriage. The best way to prevent fetal death and birth defects is to quit smoking before getting pregnant. If one is already pregnant, stop smoking immediately to prevent health problems like low birth weight from occurring. Get more information from the following HerHaleness link on birth defects caused by smoking.
✓ Eat a Well-Balanced Meal
One should eat a well-balanced meal with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables included. Stop eating junk foods and oily foods during the preconception period. Eating nutritious meals will make sure your growing fetus receives all the vital vitamins and minerals for growth.
✗ Give Up the Booze
Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy not only get drunk themselves, but also feed the nasty alcohol to their fetus. Alcohol has the ability to pass through the placental barrier by going through the umbilical cord. This can lead to the serious birth defect called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This leads to mental retardation, learning disabilities, and low birth weight.
✓ Visit the Doctor for Regular Check Up
Visit the doctor for regular checkups before and after getting pregnant. This will help monitor your health as well as the health of the growing fetus. If any problems are found, they can be checked immediately and one can prevent them from occurring.
✗ Say NO to Drugs
Women who use illegal drugs during pregnancy are putting their babies at risk. The baby may suffer from birth defects like defects of the limbs, urinary system, reproductive system as well as heart. One should also prevent using drugs when breastfeeding as these drugs can pass through breast milk. This causes growth and development problems in the infant. Thus, make sure you give up drugs completely before getting pregnant.
✓ Speak to the Doctor Before Taking Any Medications
Many drugs can cause side effects in the fetus and lead to birth defects. Thus, it is always better to consult a doctor, before popping a pill in your mouth. Simple over the counter medications for headache, flu, cough and cold, etc. can lead to serious developmental problems in the fetus. Avoid taking herbal products too without consulting your doctor first. Make sure you even ask about certain vaccination shots to your doctor before taking them. Not all vaccines are recommended for a pregnant woman.
✗ Obesity is a Strict No-No
It has been found 1 in 100 live births is affected by heart defects. This is seen in women who are pregnant with a body mass is over 30. Studies have shown overweight mothers at greater risk for birth defects in their babies like heart defects. Thus, one should carry out moderate exercises like walking, using stationary bike and even swimming. Keep your body weight under control to avoid complications during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor about the exercises that are safe for you during pregnancy.
✓ Maintain Your Health
It is important to keep away from infections as many organisms have the ability of causing birth defects in fetus. One needs to avoid visiting crowded places and eating unhealthy foods from outside. Also maintain proper hygiene and avoid eating undercooked red meat. Undercooked red meat is a source of toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can lead to severe fetal brain damage. Women with diabetes should keep their blood sugar levels under control as it may affect the baby’s health and lead to birth issues. Women over the age of 35 or those who know about previous genetic defects occurring in the family, should undergo genetic testing before getting pregnant. Genetic testing of both partners will help determine the probability of a genetic defect that can occur in the baby.
These are some of the ways that help in preventing birth defects. Getting pregnant is an exciting period for every woman, but it is full of responsibility. Awareness about how to prevent birth defects helps in the well-begin of both, the mother and her unborn child. However, it should be noted not all birth defects can be prevented. But, you can always kick-start a healthy life for your unborn baby by making sure you take all the precautionary measures to prevent any kind of birth defects from taking place.