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National Birth Defects Prevention Month is a time to raise awareness of birth defects and promote healthy pregnancies.

A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother’s body. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect. Many birth defects can be prevented. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, these tips can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby:

  • Take a multivitamin with folic acid every day before and during pregnancy.
  • See your doctor or midwife regularly as soon as you think you’re pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Eat well and stay active.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and other drug use.
  • Prevent infections from food and other sources.

Approximately one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a birth defect as a problem that happens while the baby is developing in the mother’s body. Babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long-term disability. Diabetes is the theme of this year’s National Birth Defects Prevention Month (January).

Both genetic and environmental factors can cause birth defects. While 60 to 70 percent of birth defects are unknown, there are some simple steps a woman can take to lower her risk of having a baby with a birth defect. These include:

  • Getting enough folic acid every day before and during pregnancy.
  • Not smoking, using recreational drugs, or drinking alcohol while pregnant.
  • Preventing infection.
  • Avoiding certain medications (and other chemicals).
  • Getting regular prenatal care.
  • Eating properly.
  • Making sure all vaccinations are up to date.

For more information, call the Greater Harrisburg Healthy Start Program today: 717-909-1278