January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month, a campaign to raise awareness about birth defects and their impact on individuals, parents, and families.
Birth defects can happen for many reasons and not all can be prevented. However, people can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing their medical conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before and during pregnancy.
Here are steps you can take to get ready for pregnancy, stay healthy during pregnancy, and give your baby a healthy start in life:
- Start prenatal care as soon as you think you might be pregnant and see your healthcare provider regularly.
- Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant.
- Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or vape, and avoid using cannabis or other drugs.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.
- Be proactive in identifying and treating fever when ill or after getting a vaccine. Avoid hot tubs, saunas, or other environments that might cause overheating.
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight.
- If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of birth defects.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)