January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Nearly every four minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the U.S. That means birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born. Birth defects are the most common cause of death in the first year of life and the second most common cause of death in children ages1 to 4.
While these statistics are sobering, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) notes that families can lower the risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following basic health guidelines throughout the reproductive years. Women and men are encouraged to make a PACT for their own health and the family they may have one day.
Plan ahead:
· Get healthy before getting pregnant.
· Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Avoid harmful substances:
· Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
· Be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.
Choose a healthy lifestyle:
· Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fats and oils.
· Be physically active.
· Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.
Talk to a doctor:
· Get a medical checkup.
· Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
· Talk about your family history.
All women and men can live out their PACT by taking these four easy, but important steps. Show how you are making a PACT for prevention by using the hashtags #livingmyPACT and #1in33.
OSDH is working with healthcare professionals and family leaders around the state to raise awareness of birth defects. Find additional information at www.obdr.health.ok.gov.
For more information about having a healthy pregnancy and a a healthy baby, view the “Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility” public education campaign on the OSDH website at http://iio.health.ok.gov.