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Strategies to Prevent Birth Defects

by Kimberly Hays January 11th, 2015 | Health Observance, Women's Health
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pregnant womanMost mothers-to-be know that it is important to get plenty of folic acid and to see their doctor prior to becoming pregnant to be sure that they are in optimum health. With birth defects averaging at approximately 1 in 33 babies in the United States, it is also the cause of high mortality rates. Because we are observing National Birth Defects Prevention Month, we are going to discuss some of the less talked about information on birth defects. Knowledge is power!

Reduce Your Sugar Intake – Deficiencies in certain nutrients can be detrimental during a pregnancy, but so can an overabundance of some substances. Excess consumption of sugar can have may cause gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can occur in women who have never been diagnosed with diabetes. There are tests available for gestational diabetes, so talk to your doctor about it. Keep in mind that you can help avoid this condition by limiting your sugar intake and getting proper exercise.

Avoid Teratogens – These are big words, but they are not so complicated. Teratogens are any substance that has been found to cause birth defects such as cigarette smoke, certain medications, chemicals, and alcohol. All of these materials alter the womb’s environment, and should be avoided even prior to becoming pregnant.

Detection and Early Treatment – Not all birth defects can be avoided, but thankfully there are many options to help. Early detection will allow the doctor to begin treatment which can involve anything from a change in diet to surgery. Surgeries can be performed while the baby is still in the womb which allow for better development as they grow, and will also give them a better quality of life after birth.

Aside from the above, be sure to see your doctor before becoming pregnant, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, and speak with your doctor about medications that you take, including those that you get over the counter. Also avoid infections that may be harmful by frequently washing your hands, cooking meats thoroughly, and staying away from people who are sick.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.