Preventing Birth Defects

by Carolina on January 7, 2010

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This month is the National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Birth defect is defined as any defect present in a baby at birth. It involves defects in or damage to a developing fetus and it may be the result of genetic abnormalities, the intrauterine (uterus) environment, errors of morphogenesis, a chromosomal abnormality, or by prenatal events that are not genetic.

Birth defect is a widely-used term for a congenital malformation. Most birth defects are believed to be caused by a complex mix of factors including genetics, environment, and behavior, though many birth defects have no known cause. These defects may involve many different organs including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, bones, and intestinal tract. All parents are at risk of having a baby with a birth defect, regardless of age, race, income or residence.

In the US, 2-3% of babies are born with a medically significant birth defect. The infants with birth defects include many with heart defects, cleft lip or palate, Down syndrome, spine bifida, and limb defects.

Each year in the United States, there are 3,000 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects (NTDs) caused by the incomplete closing of the spine and skull (Read article). Half of all pregnancies are unplanned (Read article) and Hispanic/Latina Women have the highest rate among women having a child affected by these birth defects. (Read summary).

Since birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States and many other developed nations, women should learn about ways to preventing them.

CDC urges women to take 400 micro grams of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant, to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine (CDC). The vitamin B, that our bodies use to make new cells is very important because it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine (NTDs) by 50% to 70% (Read article).

As some might know, our body makes healthy new cells daily. Think about the skin, hair, and nails. Every woman needs folic acid daily, whether she’s planning to get pregnant or not. Taking a vitamin that has folic acid every day, or eating a bowl of breakfast cereal that has 100% of the daily value of folic acid every day, are two easy ways to ensure the recommended intake of  this B vitamin.

Following these recommendations will help prevent birth defects, reducing one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States and other developed countries.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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