Understanding & Preventing Some Birth Defects

By Dr. Lindy Truong

Birth defects are not uncommon. Every year, one out of every 33 babies is born with some kind of birth defect ranging from minor, to those with life-long challenges. Some are preventable, and many can be managed better with proper care and support from a medical team.

There are, however, some factors that increase the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, so here are ways to increase the chance of having a healthy baby. This year’s theme is “Best for you. Best for baby.”

Healthy Moms for Healthy Babies

One of the most important steps a patient can take to having a healthy baby is to make sure they are healthy themselves prior to getting pregnant and throughout pregnancy. One of the most important ways to do that is to maintain a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, since women will gain weight during pregnancy. Babies born to obese women have an increased risk of having birth defects, such as heart and spinal cord defects.

Folic Acid During Pregnancy

Folic acid plays a big role in a baby’s development during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant should try to have 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. In early development, folic acid helps form the neural tube—a structure that begins forming in the first 3 to 4 weeks after conception. Later, the neural tube becomes the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is important in preventing birth defects that affect the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida).

Prenatal Care

Starting prenatal care as early as possible during a pregnancy has shown to increase healthy, full-term deliveries. If someone is pregnant, they should start prenatal care as soon as they think they might be pregnant. It will be important to continue all prenatal appointments throughout the pregnancy. These appointments ensure that both baby and mom are healthy, monitor any medications because some can cause birth defects, and so much more.

Preventative Health

Being current on vaccinations is important to protecting both mother and baby. The two most important vaccines to have during pregnancy are the Flu and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis a.k.a. whooping cough) vaccines. When mothers get these vaccines during pregnancy, it also protects them from the flu and whooping cough for a short period post-delivery as well!

What to Avoid

Last, but not least, it is very important to avoid substances like alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs. These can seriously increase the risk for birth defects. Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and defects. Smoking and recreational drugs similarly increases the risk that the baby will be born smaller and with birth defects.

Expecting a baby can leave the parents with many questions, which is why having a trusted medical home for you and your baby is so important. If you plan to get pregnant, take care of yourself and do what is best for you, because it is also what is best for the baby.

You can schedule a preconception visit with your healthcare provider before you even become pregnant, which is a good place to start. Being healthy before pregnancy sets a good foundation for a healthy pregnancy. Continue with regular prenatal visits for close monitoring along the way. These are simple yet important things one should do to prevent birth defects in their baby.

June is World Infertility Month by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.

World Health Organization

June is World Infertility Month. This topic can be difficulty for people to deal with but millions of women and men deal with infertility, and mostly in silence. The CDC reports that 12.7% of women 15-49 years of age have received some type of infertility service. It is important to stay educated on risk factors and strategies to help manage the emotions associated with infertility.

Many risk factors for both male and females are the same while others are gender specific. Infertility is not solely a women’s issue as about 30% of infertility cases involve male factors.

Risk factors for women include:

  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma etc.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Age.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Fallopian tube disease.
  • Endometriosis.

Risk factors for men include:

  • Cigarette or marijuana use.
  • Hernia repair.
  • Certain prescription drugs for ulcers or psoriasis.
  • Undescended testicles.

Infertility can often create one of the most distressing issues for couples. Infertility brings to light deep emotions while dealing with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainty that follows. Feeling depressed, anxious, or isolated are only a few of the emotions in the process of pursuing infertility or infertility treatments. The journey can be very hard.

If you are struggling with infertility consider the following tips:

  • Give yourself permission to be angry.
  • Allow your partner to cope and feel differently than you.
  • Improve your communication about infertility.
  • Improve relaxation skills such as deep breathing.
  • Try a support group (consider Resolve.org).

Consider discussing this with a mental health professional to clarify thoughts and help with decision making. Counseling may be helpful for learning how to cope with physical and emotional changes, communication with your partner, and to strengthen coping skills to manage moving forward. NOAH is here to help. Our counselors and medical staff are here to support you through your journey of infertility.

Things to Pack for the Big Event

Get a jump start on packing for the Big Event, giving you one less thing to worry about when #baby ready join the world! Our Care Team at NOAH will work with you and your #child to choose the best path for their overall #health and #wellness. To schedule an apt., please call 480-882-4545!


Newborn Care – Video

Now that you have brought your #baby home from the #hospital, what do you do? Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician, shares some great bathing and socialization #tips to help you and your baby get off to a good start. Our Care Team at NOAH will work with you and your #child to choose the best path for their overall #health and #wellness. To schedule an apt., please call 480-882-4545!

National Birth Defects Month

Birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the U.S. The goal of #NationalBirthDefectsPreventionMonth is to generate awareness noting birth defects are common, costly, and critical, and to offer steps that you can take to increase your chance of having a healthy baby.
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