Pregnancy & Newborn

4 Steps That Reduce Your Child's Risk of a Birth Defect

Making proactive decisions about your health during your pregnancy isn’t just essential for your well-being; it’s also vital for the healthy development of your child. A few changes to your lifestyle can help you and your baby avoid preventable health complications. The following four steps can reduce your developing child’s risk and allow you to enjoy a healthier pregnancy.

Don't Forget the Folic Acid

Folic acid is one of the most essential vitamins you and your developing child need during pregnancy. In fact, it’s so important that you should be taking it for at least a month before you become pregnant. According to Neal Spears, MD, pediatrician at CHI St. Joseph Health Pediatrics in College Station, “Folic acid aids in the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord, so a deficiency can result in neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.” Your OB/GYN can use your medical history to determine your proper dosage of folic acid supplements.

Abstain From Alcohol

Maybe you’ve heard that one glass of wine every now and then is ok while you’re pregnant; however, there is no proven amount that’s safe to consume, so it’s best to refrain from alcohol while you’re expecting or trying to become pregnant. Keep in mind that alcohol is just one of the many harmful substances you should avoid while pregnant; smoking and illegal drug use can harm you and your developing child’s health.  

Give Germs the Slip  

An infection during pregnancy can be detrimental to you and your baby. You must be extra cautious to avoid illness while pregnant. If you have a pet, request that someone else clean up their waste during your pregnancy, as animal feces can carry disease. Avoid places known for having Zika outbreaks, be sure to get the flu vaccine early in your pregnancy, and pass on foods that might cause illness, such as sushi made with raw fish or unpasteurized milk products.

Mull Over Your Medication

It’s best to discuss how you will manage your existing medical conditions throughout your pregnancy with your doctor before you become pregnant, but sometimes the unexpected happens. If you haven’t previously discussed treatment during pregnancy with your doctor, don’t stop or start any medicines or supplements until you speak with your doctor. They can help you determine which medications you should continue to take throughout your pregnancy.

Whether you’re trying to become pregnant or expecting, schedule an appointment with a CHI St. Joseph Health OB/GYN. Together, you can develop a plan to have a healthy and fulfilling pregnancy.

Sources:
CDC | Best For You. Best For Baby. 5 Tips for Preventing Birth Defects.Texas DSHS | Preventing Birth Defects
March of Dimes | Birth Defects & Other Health Conditions
NIH | What are the types of birth defects?
NIH | What causes birth defects?
CDC | 10 Tips for Preventing Infections Before and During Pregnancy

 

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