5 Of The Healthiest Habits To Prevent Birth Defects

pregnant woman with doctor

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect and birth defects account for more than 20% of all infant deaths. NurseWise, a national multilingual nurse triage and health education provider, is helping to bring awareness to this extremely important health matter during January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

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“As a health organization with a strong focus on women’s health and helping more women deliver healthy, full-term babies, NurseWise is proud to support the mission of organizations like the CDC and the March of Dimes,” said Kim Tuck, RN, President and Chief Executive Officer of NurseWise. “These dedicated-health organizations, and other national and local organizations like them, actively promote the importance and benefit of consistent and comprehensive prenatal education and health care. The clinical professionals at NurseWise have put together a few health tips from the CDC to help mothers understand the health habits they can adopt now to improve their babies’ wellbeing and development.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but a woman can increase her chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. This is important because many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Here are a few healthy habits women can adopt prior to and during pregnancy:

1. Get 400 micrograms (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 baby’s brain and spine (anencephaly and spina bifida). You can boost your folic-acid intake by eating fortified foods, taking supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to adopting a varied diet rich in folate.

2. Avoid alcohol at all times during pregnancy. Alcohol present in the mother’s bloodstream passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to conceive. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wine and beer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). The best course of action is to stop all alcohol consumption when you start trying to conceive.

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3. Avoid smoking cigarettes or using “street” drugs. The dangers of smoking during pregnancy can include premature birth, certain birth defects (cleft lip or cleft palate), and infant death. Be cognizant of second-hand smoke, as it puts a woman and her unborn baby at risk for serious health problems. Electronic cigarettes or ecigarettes have not been proven a safe alternative. A woman who uses illegal – or “street” – drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born premature, has a low birth weight, or has other health problems, such as birth defects.

4. Prevent infections. Certain infections can be harmful to the unborn baby and can even cause birth defects. Some easy steps to prevent infections include washing your hands thoroughly, cooking meat until it’s well done, limiting the consumption of sushi and lunchmeats, and being cautious when around or in direct contact with people who have an infection.

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5. See your medical provider regularly. Be certain to see your medical provider when planning a pregnancy and start prenatal care as soon as you suspect pregnancy. It is important to see your provider regularly throughout your pregnancy, so expectant mothers should keep and complete all prenatal-care appointments and recommendations. Also consult your medical provider about the best medication to take during pregnancy to treat common pregnancy-related discomforts such as: headaches, nausea, constipation and vertigo.

For more birth defect prevention tips and information, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/birthdefects.

About NurseWise

NurseWise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation that is in the business of providing multilingual telehealth (nurse triage and health education) services. We partner with health plans, hospitals, providers, colleges and universities, and other specialty organizations to ensure all callers have access to high quality, appropriate care. Our services are designed to encourage callers to become active participants in their health care, engaging in activities that promote appropriate utilization of care resources as well as better health outcomes for individuals and their families. We have provided uninterrupted service every day since 1995. NurseWise experienced Customer Care Professionals and Registered Nurses at our Clinical Care CentersTM across the country provide Care.Right.Now. through delivery of health information, education, and advice in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner. NurseWise has locations in Tempe, Ariz.; El Paso, Texas; Tyler, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; and St. Louis, Mo. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.nursewise.com or contact us [email protected].