January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Rice County Public Health is trying to call attention to how the risks of some birth defects can be reduced.

(Patch file photo)
(Patch file photo)
January is National Birth Defect Awareness Month and Rice County Public Health is trying to raise awareness that the risk for many birth defects can be reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy.

The following is a release from Rice County Public Health:

Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.  In fact, every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. In honor of January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month - 2014, Rice County Public Health is raising awareness that the risk for many types of birth defects can be reduced through healthy lifestyle choices and medical care before and during pregnancy.

There are many different kinds of birth defects including congenital heart defects, cleft lip or palate, defects of the brain and spine, bones, muscles and internal organs, and a variety of genetic syndromes such as Down syndrome.  Some have only a minor and brief effect on a baby’s health while others have life-threatening or life-long effects, which can often be lessened by early detection and treatment.

Studies have demonstrated several important steps women can take to help prevent birth defects. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant are advised to: 

• Consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
• Manage chronic maternal illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders, or phenylketonuria (PKU)
• Reach and maintain a healthy weight
• Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
• Avoid alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs
• See a health care provider regularly
• Avoid toxic substances at work or at home
• Ensure protection against domestic violence
• Know their family history and seek reproductive genetic counseling, if appropriate

Sara Coulter, Clinic and Community Supervisor, (507) 332 -5910
Deb Purfeerst, Community Health Services Director, (507) 332-5914


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