Source: Centers for Disease Control
Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, there are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby:
Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly and start prenatal care as soon as you think you might be pregnant.
Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant.
Don’t drink alcohol, smoke, or use “street” drugs.
Don’t stop or start taking any type of medication without first talking with a doctor. Talk to a healthcare provider about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.
If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions that increase the risk for birth defects include diabetes and obesity.
Birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies every year and cause 1 in 5 infant deaths. For many babies
born with a birth defect, there is no family history of the condition.
Because half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned, all women who can become
pregnant should take a vitamin with folic acid every day. Folic acid helps a baby’s brain and spine develop very early in the first month of pregnancy when a woman might not know she is pregnant.
The placenta, which attaches a baby to the mother, is not a strong barrier. When a mother uses cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs, or is exposed to infectious diseases, her baby is exposed also.