Choose a Healthy Lifestyle to Prevent Possible Birth Defects

January is National Birth Defects Prevention month so here are some steps that can help prospective parents.

Yawning infant

posted on 1/2/2020 in BLOGS from St. Anthony

When you dream of becoming a mom you probably have visions of holding and snuggling your perfect newborn. Sadly, birth defects are more common than you might think, in fact, birth defects affect one in every 33 babies (about 3-percent of all babies) born in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, birth defects are the leading cause of infant deaths, accounting for 20-percent of all infant deaths. Some birth defects are minor and treatable, while others are debilitating.

In most cases, doctors don't know what caused a baby's birth defect. When the cause is known, it might be environmental (such as a baby's exposure to chemicals or viruses while in the womb), a problem with genes, or a combination of these things. Some risk factors can contribute to birth defects and a woman can do certain things before and during her pregnancy to lower the chances of birth defects or prevent them altogether. January is National Birth Defects Prevention month so here are some steps that can help prospective parents.

  • Take 400 (mcg) of folic acid every day at least one month before and during pregnancy. This essential B vitamin can help prevent major birth defects.
  • See a healthcare professional regularly before planning on starting a family and throughout the pregnancy.
  • Avoid harmful substances such as smoking or alcohol at any time during pregnancy.
  • Prevent infections.
  • Avoid overheating and treat fever promptly.
  • Choose a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines and medications you are currently taking.
  • Get plenty of rest.

Starting a family is an exciting time in your life and while not all birth defects can be prevented, women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. St. Anthony Regional Hospital (Carroll, IA) is dedicated to improving the health of the people we serve. We believe in providing high quality, healthcare services responsive to the needs of our patients. For more information, visit our website or call us at 712-792-3581. Follow us on Facebook!



  1. birth defects
  2. pediatrician

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