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A guide to the prevention of birth defects

PLAN AHEAD

By planning ahead, you are able to obtain more control over the health of you and your future child. Always make it a priority to get all the nutrients you and the baby need, specifically enough folic acid, or Vitamin B. Seeing a healthcare provider on a regular basis is important so as to check the pace of your child's development.

AVOID HARMFUL SUBSTANCES

You as an expecting mother are no longer just in charge of taking care of your own body, so your future child must be taken into consideration with every choice of what you drink, eat, or put into your body. Alcohol is a legal substance to consume if you are over the age of 21 and is very easy to obtain. However, drinking while pregnant is never a wise choice. Any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream can potentially cause a miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of various physical, behavioral, and intellectually disabilities.


Smoking cigarettes or anything that contains the harmful chemicals within them, including nicotine and tobacco, while pregnant can cause birth defects like cleft palate, low birth defect, and infant death. It is never too late to stop smoking.


Using marijuana and "street drugs" while pregnant can cause premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects. Marijuana is illegal in most regions of the US, but can be easily obtainable in all states. Women who use marijuana for medical reasons should consult with their doctor about alternative methods of treatment.


HEALTHY LIVING

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal throughout life, but especially important while pregnant. Obese women are at a higher risk of pregnancy and birth complications. Obesity can also increase a woman's risk of several serious birth defect. Being underweight as an expecting can also lead to pregnancy complications.


Diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances of birth defects and other problems for the pregnancy, and for the woman individually. Proper healthcare before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects and other poor outcomes.

PROPER HEALTHCARE

Fetuses and embryos are very sensitive to medications, even if they help the mother stay healthy. Certain medications cause specific birth defects, some that may have dire consequences. It is extremely important to speak with your doctor about the safety of using any medication.


Some vaccinations are okay to use, some are encouraged, and others are condemned to use while pregnant. Many vaccinations such as the influenza vaccine and diphtheria, help fight the woman against infections that can cause birth defects. Other vaccines, however can cause birth defects and complications.