Make Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects

January 25, 2024
Make Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects

A positive pregnancy test can bring a lot of joy — and create a lot of anxiety. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your fifth, being an expecting parent can come with a lot of stress and pressure.

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. This is a great time to look at how making healthy choices during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects. Here are four ways the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages mothers to make healthy decisions to increase their chances of delivering a healthy baby.

Make a plan and stick to it.

If you want to have a baby, it’s important to plan ahead. Seeing your doctor regularly is part of keeping yourself healthy, but it’s also an important part of being pregnant. Your doctor may be able to spot signs of pregnancy before you can, so you can start receiving prenatal care as soon as possible. The CDC also recommends making sure you get 400 micrograms of folic acid (a B vitamin) daily from fortified foods, supplements, or a combination of the two.

Avoid dangerous substances.

A critical part of keeping your baby healthy is avoiding alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and other harmful substances during pregnancy. Consuming any of these while pregnant increases your baby’s chance of developing a variety of birth defects, from being born prematurely to struggling with lifelong disabilities. Preventing infection and treating fever promptly are other ways to ensure your baby stays healthy in the womb.

Live a healthy lifestyle.

Struggles with diabetes and weight can negatively impact your baby during pregnancy. Learning how to manage your diabetes is an essential part of having a healthy lifestyle. Being able to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control while pregnant will help prevent birth defects. Overweight and obese individuals tend to have a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. So, maintaining a healthy weight before getting pregnant and while carrying your baby is another way to help prevent birth defects.

Consult with your doctor.

From medicines to vaccines, there are some things that would normally be healthy or good for you that might negatively affect your baby. Keep your prenatal healthcare provider informed of the medicines you’re taking, along with any other health-related products you plan to use during pregnancy. Let them know as soon as possible if you become sick, especially if you get the flu or another virus.

Between excitement and stress, being pregnant can be difficult. Use this information and find more resources from the CDC to guide you through your pregnancy at