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Make Healthy Choices To Reduce The Risk Of Birth Defects

Ethnic-BabyDid you know that January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month? As parents, we all want to protect our children from anything harmful starting before they are even born. Here is some information on making healthy choices to reduce the risk of birth defects.

Birth defects can affect babies and their parents for years and alter the family’s life for decades. According to the CDC, a woman can increase her chances of having a healthy baby by taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Taking this B vitamin throughout the pregnancy can prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord known as anencephaly and spina bifida.

The Texas Department of State Health Services states that pregnant women should not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Since there is no known safe alcohol limit for pregnancy, total abstinence should be observed to prevent the physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities which comprise the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). Cleft lips and cleft palates are the birth defects that can be averted by not smoking cigarettes.

Maintaining a healthy weight is another thing that a pregnant woman can do to ensure a healthy outcome for her pregnancy, since babies of overweight women have an increased risk of developing birth defects. Pregnant women should therefore eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.

The Ohio Department of Health advises pregnant women to avoid exposure to toxic substances in their workplace in order to lower their risk of birth defects. Prescription medications and cleaning chemicals are some of the substances that may not appear as toxic, but can still damage developing babies of pregnant working women.

Pregnant women should also always consult their doctors before taking any prescription medications, over the counter medications, dietary and herbal supplements since they can also cause birth defects.

Written by: Marian Kim, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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