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Birth Defects Prevention & Awareness Month

Each year, birth defects affect about 1 in 33 newborns in the United States[1].  Birth defects account for 20% of infant deaths[2].  Infants who live with birth defects often have life-long physical and cognitive impairments, costing families and the health care system millions.birth defects infographic

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but there are several things that women of childbearing age and pregnant women can do to help increase their chance of delivering a healthy baby:

  1. Abstain from alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs and talk to your health care provider about any medications you are taking.
  2. Keep diabetes (Type I and II) under control.
  3. Consume at least 400 mcg of folic acid before and during pregnancy.  What’s folic acid?
    • Folic acid is a B vitamin our bodies use to make new cells.
    • Folic acid occurs naturally in some foods such as: beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, peanuts, oranges and other citrus fruit.
    • Folic acid can be found in multivitamins, prenatal vitamins and fortified or enriched foods, like cereal.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.


To learn more about births defects and prevention, visit these resources:
National Birth Defects Prevention Network
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention


[1] CDC. Update on overall prevalence of major birth defects—Atlanta, Georgia, 1978–2005. MMWR 2008;57:1–5.

[2] Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung H. Deaths: final data for 2009. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2011;60(3).


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