January brings in the new year and along with that comes National Birth Defects Prevention Month. This month is meant to spread awareness of birth defects and the steps pregnant women can take to avoid them. In recent years the lifespan of an infant with a birth defect has greatly increased. This is attributed to the advances in medical research in this area. Despite these advances, babies with birth defects and their families still need support. Babies born with defects will need specialized treatment, a strong support system, and long term care in order to improve their quality of life.
A baby is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes in the US alone. This means that one out of thirty-three babies is born with a defect of some sort. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States and accounts for twenty percent of infant deaths. These defects can range in severity and how much they affect the quality of life. Birth defects are not always life threatening but they frequently put stress on the people, families, and communities involved. Luckily there are ways that they can be helped.
The first step in being aware of birth defects is for pregnant women to take the appropriate steps to prevent birth defects. These steps include doing your best to eat a healthy diet and stay in shape before and during pregnancy, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs during pregnancy, consume the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy, and always consult a medical professional before taking supplements or medication while pregnant. There is no way to make no risk but doing these things can reduce it. To help spread the word of birth defects, you can share your story through social media. You can also donate to organizations that work to find cures for birth defects. Everyone is affected by birth defects so we should all do our part in making them less lethal.