Maternal and Neo-Natal Health Awareness: Nurture NJ · Birth Defects Prevention · Pregnancy Complications · Premature Birth · Birth Complications · Maternal Death · Donate
New Jersey March For Babies Events: E. Rutherford · Piscataway · W. Windsor · Voorhees (April 28) · Glassboro · Augusta (May 5)
Birth defects are not completely preventable. But if you’re pregnant or thinking about having a baby, here’s how you can do to help reduce the risk of birth defects and improve your chances of having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby:
Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. A preconception checkup is especially important if you’ve already had a baby with a birth defect. Your health care provider can check your overall health and make sure any medicines you take are safe to take during pregnancy. Being exposed to certain medicines or infections in the womb can sometimes cause birth defects in a baby.
Take folic acid before and during early pregnancy. Take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant. During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin that has 600 micrograms of folic acid in it every day. This can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs) in your baby. Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development.
Get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Talk to your provider about a healthy weight for you. Eat healthy foods and do something active every day.
Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Ask your provider about vaccinations you need before pregnancy, including the flu shot and the pertussis (whooping cough) booster. It’s also a great idea to make sure vaccinations are current for everyone in your family to help prevent the spread of harmful diseases.
Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs. All of these can cause serious health problems for your baby. For example, chemicals from smoking can damage the placenta and pass to your baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy makes your baby more likely to be born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and have birth defects and a group of conditions called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Using harmful drugs called opioids during pregnancy can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and premature birth.