What Can I Do?
Did you know?
That each year in the United States more than
8,000 babies die from birth defects – the leading cause of infant mortality?
That 3 to 4% of all babies born each year in the United States
have a serious birth defect? That’s 120,000 to 160,000 babies – or almost
400 every day!
What should I do to prepare for pregnancy?
In addition to eating right, exercising and getting plenty of rest, there are
five things you can do before getting pregnant to have a healthy pregnancy and
to reduce your risk of having a baby with a birth defect.
1. Start taking 400 micrograms (0.4mg) of folic acid every day now,
bbecause it takes some time for your body to build up proper stores of this
important B-vitamin. It is important to take it before conception and
early in pregnancy, since these defects occur in the first months of
pregnancy before most women realize they’re pregnant.
2. See your health care provider for a check-up, and make sure
you’ve had all your immunizations, especially for rubella (German measles). If
you’re taking a prescribed medication, be sure your health care provider and
pharmacist know that you’re planning to become pregnant.
3. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, STOP! These
substances can threaten the health of your baby, and your own health too.
4. Stay away from toxic chemicals at home and at work –
including insecticides, solvents (like some cleaners or paint thinners), lead,
and mercury. Read the labels before using chemicals, and don’t be afraid to
ask your health care provider if you have questions!
5. If you have a cat, don’t handle the cat litter – it can
carry "toxoplasmosis" which can cause birth defects. If possible, take
a break from this chore while you’re pregnant! Also, wear gloves while
gardening in areas cats may visit and while handling uncooked meats.
(The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – National Center
for Environmental Health – Division of Birth Defects and Developmental