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Reducing the Risk of Birth Defects

The road of pregnancy is not always smooth and joyful.


There are times when you are met with challenges and unexpected results. Birth Defects are one of those road blocks that stop you in your tracks and cause you to travel an unexpected road.

While this may not be the journey you want or the road you want to travel-there is hope. I recommend if this is your journey, to connect with a doctor you trust, make sure to ask all of your questions and fully get an understanding. 

Remember the birth defect is not your fault and you are not alone; every 4 and ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States (Center for Disease Control, 2008). 

Birth defects are common. Every 4 and ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. That translates into about 120,000 babies.

The  month of January is designated National Birth Defects Prevention Awareness Month. This annual campaign is promoted by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and throughout Ohio (

What is a Birth Defect?

Some of you reading this may be wondering:

 What is a Birth Defect? Do my baby have one?       Is it my fault?

A birth defect is a condition that is present at birth. Some birth defects can be seen right after the baby is born like a club foot, extra fingers or toes. For other birth defects; special test may need to be done to discover them such as hearing loss. While others may not be noticed until later in life (

What Causes Birth Defects?

Of course you may be wondering how can you protect your baby and pregnancy. The truth is many birth defects cannot be prevented because their cause if not known ( This can be scary because how can you prevent something from happening when you don’t even know what to prevent?  While that is true,  and some birth defects cannot be prevented:

You can help Reduce the Risk of Birth Defects

Listed below are recommendations from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) that help decrease your risk of birth defects:

  1. See your doctor before becoming pregnant.

  2. Know your risk factors.

  3. Take a daily multivitamin before and during pregnancy.

  4. Maintain a healthy weight.

  5. Use medications wisely.

  6. Take care of medical conditions before pregnancy.

  7. Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs.

  8. Prevent infections.

  9. Avoid known harmful agents

Pregnancy in itself is a leap of faith and trust throughout the process of conception to delivery and parenting adds another whole layer. The truth is there are many factors that influence a pregnancy and a pregnancy outcome. I encourage everyone who is thinking of becoming pregnant,please schedule an appointment and speak with their doctor even before a Positive Pregnancy Test.

Take each day as it comes, ask questions and trust the journey. Also take a moment to review the Patient Education Information from ACOG ( The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) for more in-depth information on Reducing the Risk of Birth Defects 


Healthy Mom/ Healthy Baby

by Mary E.,RN,BSN,MSN

Wife /Mother/Nurse

Contact Mary at :

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