Birth defects refer to physical, mental, or emotional conditions present at birth that can cause lifelong physical or intellectual developmental disabilities. Some of the most common of these disabilities include Down syndrome, spina bifida, cleft lip/palate, and heart defects.
Although many of these defects occur as a result of genetic or environmental factors beyond an individual’s control, there are things you can do when it comes to preventing birth defects. As such, January was designated National Birth Defects Prevention Month to help spread awareness about birth defects and how to prevent them.
4 Facts About Preventing Birth Defects
Understanding the following facts about birth defects can not only help you realize how big of a risk they are, but what you can do when it comes to preventing birth defects:
- Babies are born with birth defects more often than you might realize. It’s estimated that around 120,000 babies are born in the U.S. every year with some kind of disability.
- A baby is born with a major defect every 4 and a half minutes in the U.S. That means that roughly 1 out of every 33 babies that are born in the U.S. have a defect.
- A lack of folic acid during pregnancy can increase the risk of defects such as spina bifida or anencephaly. Folic acid is a vitamin found in many foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fortified grains and is required by the body to form red blood cells and for tissue growth.
- Drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of birth defects. It’s estimated that 10 percent of pregnant women have had alcohol in the past 30 days, thereby increasing their risk of giving birth to a baby with a defect. By making simple lifestyle changes and following your doctor’s advice, you can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects.
Prevent Defects at Birth By Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Pregnant women in California should be sure to stop smoking and drinking alcohol, and to add folic acid to their diets to help with preventing birth defects. For more health advice, be sure to visit us at The Benefits Store today.