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Birth Defect Prevention

Birth Defect Prevention

Did you know?

  • Every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States.
  • About 120,000 babies (1 in 33) in the U.S. are born each year with birth defects.
    • In Michigan, approximately 8,000 babies are born with birth defects every year.
  • Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life.
  • There are many different types of birth defects. The most common are heart defects, neural tube defects, and oro-facial clefts.
  • The cause is unknown in about 70% of birth defects.

That’s why in January, District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) is joining with leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the March of Dimes, Teratology Society and MotherToBaby  to increase awareness of 5 critical tips to reduce the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.

While all birth defects can’t be prevented, a woman can take the following steps to increase her own chance of having a healthy baby:

  1. Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
    • Folic acid is a vitamin that can be taken prior to becoming pregnant as well as during pregnancy.
    • Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
  2. Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
    • There are often benefits to continuing treatment throughout pregnancy. Discussing a treatment plan before a pregnancy allows a woman and her health care provider to weigh the pros and cons of all options to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.
  3. Become up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.
    • Having the right vaccinations, like the flu and Tdap vaccines, at the right time during pregnancy can help keep a woman and her baby healthy.
  4. Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.
    • Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications.
  5. Boost your health by avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs.
    • There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy and its exposure can cause major birth defects.
    • Smoking tobacco and/or marijuana during pregnancy can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and/or reach baby’s bloodstream.
    • The opioid addiction epidemic has led to a sharp increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), premature birth and drug withdrawal in developing babies.

Quick Links
DHD#10 – Pregnancy Support
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Healthy Michigan Plan  855-789-5610
Planned Parenthood   800-230-PLAN
U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Office of Population Affairs, Title X Family Planning