Preventing Birth Defects

While not all birth defects are preventable, there are certain things a woman planning to become  pregnant or a woman already pregnant can do to lower the risks of certain birth defects.

One of the simplest and most beneficial proactive steps that a woman planning to become pregnant or already pregnant can do to protect her baby is to take 400 micrograms of Folic acid (a B vitamin) per day for at least one month before becoming pregnant and during the initial months of pregnancy. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of certain brain and spine birth defects.

Alcohol is like poison to a developing fetus.  There is no known amount of alcohol consumption that has been shown to be safe for a pregnant woman and her baby. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol is absorbed into her bloodstream and  then travels through the umbilical cord to the placenta. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy may result in the baby being born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which may result in abnormal facial features, small head size, shorter height, low body weight, poor coordination, hyperactive behavior, difficulty in paying attention, poor memory, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, poor reasoning and judgment, physical problems involving the heart, kidneys, and bones, and other serious conditions.

Smoking during pregnancy is particularly dangerous for the fetus. Smoking may result in premature birth, low birth weight, cleft lip, cleft palate, and infant death. Secondhand smoke is also dangerous for a pregnant woman and her developing fetus. 

Illegal drug use during pregnancy may result in premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects involving the baby’s arms, legs, urinary system, and heart. Certain legal drugs such as some prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements may also be responsible for certain birth defects, which makes it imperative that a woman planning to become pregnant or already pregnant discuss her present medications and supplements with her doctor.

Infections during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, may contribute to birth defects. Some vaccinations are safe and are given to pregnant women and others need to be avoided. Decisions regarding vaccinations should be discussed between the pregnant woman and her doctor. 

Women who are pregnant must strive to keep their diabetes under control for their own health and the health of their babies. Obese women (body mass index of 30 or higher) put their babies at a higher risk for certain birth defects.

Obtaining timely and appropriate prenatal care and continuing regular care during pregnancy (remember: make the appointments and keep the appointments) should be the goal of every woman who plans to get pregnant or who is already pregnant to help reduce complications during pregnancy and to help increase the likelihood of a successful and enjoyable pregnancy and birth.

Source: CDC

Some pregnancy complications and some birth defects may be avoidable with proper medical care. If you suspect that negligent medical care caused a bad medical outcome or birth defects, use our website to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your local area who may be able to help you with a medical malpractice claim. You may also reach us toll free 800-295-3959.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 at 10:16 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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