The National Birth Defects Prevention Month during January has only one purpose, and that’s to protect our future generations. Even though birth defects have been occurring in children for centuries, it is still a worrisome issue that can be controlled when the mother takes care of her own health. Yes, not all birth defects can be prevented, but many are reliant on the mother’s lifestyle. Hence, the observance of this month is essential to encourage parents to do what’s best for their babies. Get ready to be flooded with knowledge, and remember to take up the duty of spreading awareness afterward.
History of National Birth Defects Prevention Month
Birth defects in babies occur across the globe and largely contribute to infant mortality. Unfortunately, one does not need to have a family history of birth defects as even those with a healthy bloodline may have a child with birth defects. Even though many birth defects can be treated or cured, some are permanent and have an impact on the child’s quality of life.
Birth defects are structural changes that affect one or more parts of the body. This includes the heart, brain, feet, hands, e.t.c. These defects are formed during the first three months of the pregnancy when the baby’s organs are forming. The cause? The health of a parent, or exposure to substances can cause issues in the baby’s development. Some of the common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, spina bifida, anotia, and microtia. Between 1999 and 2001 in the U.S., mouth and facial defects were found in 6,776 babies per year, whereas 6,527 babies per year were affected by heart defects. Stomach and intestinal defects occurred in 2,883 babies per year, and musculoskeletal defects, which include arm and leg defects, affected 5,799 babies per year.
It is due to the dire impact of birth defects that January has been proclaimed National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The purpose is to teach and remind women about the role they can play in ensuring the health of their unborn children. For instance, the C.D.C. recommends 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent major health defects. Vaccines and flu shots are also recommended to the mother.
National Birth Defects Prevention Month timeline
Maternal rubella is identified as a cause of birth defects.
Studies on the living fetus start.
The teratogenic drug is pulled from the market due to problems it causes in pregnancies.
The Basil O'Connor Starter Scholarship Research Awards assists young scientists as they begin their careers in birth defects research.
National Birth Defects Prevention Month FAQs
Which months are the most critical when birth defects can occur?
Birth defects occur in the first three months of the pregnancy.
What is the most preventable birth defect?
Disorders related to prenatal alcohol exposure are the most preventable. It is important for pregnant women to stay away from any intoxicant or stimulant as that is one of the easiest ways to prevent birth defects.
What vitamin helps prevent birth defects?
Vitamins such as folic acid help in preventing birth defects.
How to Observe National Birth Defects Prevention Month
Create an educative space
Since doctors have years of education, and sometimes, experience, people tend to listen to their advice more. Do your part in connecting a doctor with a crowd of people to spread awareness.
Talk to pregnant women
Women who are pregnant are the most in need of ways to protect babies from birth defects. Share your knowledge and resources with pregnant women to celebrate the day.
Create awareness on social media
Create awareness for all the people on your friends or followers list. Start by posting about the causes of birth defects and how they may be prevented.
5 Facts About Birth Defects
Babies with birth defects
One in 33 U.S. babies is born with a major birth defect each year.
The leading cause of infant mortality
One in five infant deaths is due to birth defects.
Birth defects and pregnancy
Birth defects can occur throughout pregnancy but are most common in the first trimester.
The use of alcohol and other drugs
Substance usage during pregnancy can cause problems for a developing baby.
Number of babies with birth defects
Approximately 120,000 babies born each year in the United States alone have birth defects.
Why National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Important
It spreads knowledge
This month, in-depth research is presented to spread knowledge regarding several birth defects that may occur in newborn babies. This is important in the fight for better standards of living.
It works to prevent birth defects cases
The purpose of the month is to ensure the reduction of birth defects. This is achieved by providing pregnant women with easy access to the dos and don’ts.
It garners support
The more you know about birth defects and why they occur, the better you are able to provide support to parents whose babies are affected.
National Birth Defects Prevention Month dates