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Birth Defects Prevention Month: Protecting the unborn

Written By | Jan 16, 2018
Birth Defects

(image via pixabay)

SAN DIEGO, January 16, 2018– January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. “Birth defect” is the generic term used to describe health and other syndromes created in the development of the fetus while in the womb.

According to the March of Dimes, approximately 1 out of every 33 babies born in the United States have a birth defect. Birth Defects are responsible for over 20% of all infant deaths.

What are Birth Defects

The term “birth defects” is a way to describe a variety of structural changes in one or more parts of the body which are present at birth and can have serious or adverse effects on the health, development or functional ability of the baby, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).

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Moreover, children born with birth defects tend to have greater proclivity for long-term disabilities and illnesses throughout the duration of their lives.

Birth Defects

(screenshot via YouTube)

Some of the more commonly known birth defects include:

-Cleft lip/Cleft palate
-Congenital heart Defects
-Down Syndrome
-Eye defects
-Gastrointestinal defects
-Spina Bifida
-Transportation of great arteries
-Upper and lower limb reduction defects

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Health Care for Mother and Child the first defense against Birth Defects

Preconception and post-conception health care of any new mother is critical to the health and well-being for the positive, normal growth and development of an unborn child.

A pregnant woman’s body becomes the host and home of a new developing life. Every newborn infant deserves the very best opportunity to become a healthy and productive child, who is able to lead as quality a life as possible.

Birth Defects

(image via wikimedia)

Therefore, every pregnant woman needs immediate healthcare attention to assess any possible risk factors for a normal pregnancy, including assessing medical history, pre-existing medical conditions, family risk factors, and medications.

Also of concern are mothers who smoke or consume alcohol, take prescribed and/or unprescribed drugs, which includes the use of marijuana.

For the sake of both the health of the mother and proper fetal
development of a newborn, ongoing check-ups with a health care provider for each are critical and medically indicated.

Folic Acid: a defense against Birth Defects

It is recommended that throughout the duration of pregnancy, a woman consume approximately 400 micrograms of folic acid every day and a diet rich in folate to help ensure proper fetal development.

Avoiding potential illnesses and unnecessary exposure to colds, flu, bacterial infections and infectious diseases; and, exposures to diseases such as Lyme disease or Zika virus requires awareness, self-sacrifice and caution when considering any travel plans of any pregnant woman.

Plan to ward against Birth Defects before pregnancy

Ideally, it is desirable for a woman planning for pregnancy to preplan in advance with the assistance of a qualified healthcare provider, following recommendations and protocols for healthy lifestyle habits, which includes weight management, nutrition, vitamin supplementation and lifestyle management and more which fosters positive growth and development on behalf of a newborn.

Lack of proper prenatal care will statistically lead to greater incidences of birth defects and developmental disabilities.

An unhealthy mother is more likely to produce an unhealthy newborn.  Every child deserves the greatest opportunity to begin life in the most healthful way leading to the most positive developmental outcomes.

Celebrating the spirit of Birth Defects Prevention Month brings to light the critical need to honor the unborn, and our  responsibility to foster and support individual growth and development of newborns.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate

Since 1984, Laurie Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.