January is National Birth Defect Prevention Awareness Month

According to the CDC, birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant deaths.

Thanks to organizations like NBDPN and the CDC that are focused on raising awareness of and educating the public on prevention strategies, there is hope for reducing the number of birth defects in the future.

While not all birth defects can be prevented, there area number of prevention strategies that you can take to minimize the riskslisted below are a few suggested by the CDC. If you know someone who is pregnant, please encourage her to:

  • Visit a health care provider regularly
  • Take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid toxic substances at work or at home
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs
  • Ensure protection against domestic violence
  • Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter

Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges. Medical care and support services only scrape the surface of the financial and emotional impact of living with birth defects. In the United States, birth defects have accounted for over 139,000 hospital stays during a single year, resulting in $2.5 billion in hospital costs alone. Families share the burden of these costs. Additional costs due to lost wages or occupational limitations can affect families as well.

As an expectant mother, you may want to review the list of prescription medications you take with your doctor. Research has shown that antidepressant drugs may be linked to serious birth defects such as heart defects, lung conditions, brain defects, skull deformities, club foot, spinal defects and abdominal defects. If you or someone you know took anti-depressantsand delivered a child with birth defects, talk to a drug injury attorney to find out if you are eligible for compensation from the manufacturers of these drugs to offset the cost of your child's care.

Sources: CDC, NBDPN, British Medical Journal Study 2012: BMJ2012;344:d8012

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