Prevent Birth Defects

Make a PACT for Prevention


We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Make a PACT, a commitment to yourself, to get healthy before and during pregnancy by actively trying to plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk with your healthcare provider.

1. Plan Ahead

  • Get 400 micro-grams (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the developing brain and spine.

2. Avoid harmful substances.

  • Avoid alcohol at any time during pregnancy.
Alcohol in a woman's bloodstream passes to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including wine and beer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.

3. Choose a healthy lifestyle

  • Keep diabetes under control
  • Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defeats
  • Can cause serious complications for the woman
  • Proper healthcare before and during pregnancy can prevent birth defects

4. Talk with your healthcare provider

  • Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications
  • Most vaccinations are safe during pregnancy
  • Pregnant women are more prone to severe illness from the flu
  • The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both mother and her baby