Preventing Birth Defects

  • Prevent DVT in patients with folic-acid deficiency

    Prevent DVT in patients with folic-acid deficiency

    Pregnant women should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. Good sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and lettuce; beans, peas, and lentils; fruit like lemons, bananas, and melons; and fortified and enriched products including breads, juices, and cereals.

  • Type A personality yields lower diabetes mortality

    Type A personality yields lower diabetes mortality

    The prevalence of diabetes in women of childbearing age has doubled in the last decade. Babies born to women with diabetes, especially women with poor diabetes control are at greater risk for birth defects. Be sure to discuss managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders or phenylketonuria (PKU) during pregnancy.

  • Prenatal weight gain linked to autism risk

    Prenatal weight gain linked to autism risk

    The average pregnant woman needs only about 300 healthy calories more a day than she did before she was pregnant. A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant should gain about 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds, and overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

  • Discuss any medications, both prescription and over-the counter, with a healthcare provider. Two out of every three women take prescription medications during pregnancy, many to treat chronic conditions that may impact pregnancy.

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs, as well as toxic substances at work or home.

  • Pregnant women should visit a healthcare provider about once each month for weeks 4-28, twice a month for weeks 28-36 and weekly for weeks 36 to birth. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care, according to the CDC.

  • Women may consider seeking genetic counseling if they meet one or more of the following risk criteria: abnormal results from routine prenatal testing, amniocentesis results signifying a chromosomal defect, an inherited disease present in a close family member, a child of either with a birth defect or genetic disorder and those who are aged 35 years old or older.

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Not all birth defects can be prevented -- many happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant. But a woman can increase her chance of having a healthy baby through the choices she makes. View the slideshow to learn about the steps a women can take to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.

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