Folic acid and birth defect prevention: Approach to Care
Birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies every year and casue 1 in 5 infant deaths. Taking folic acid can help prevent birth defects, but there are a variety of ways expectant mothers can prevent birth defects in their unborn children:
- Even if you're not planning a baby, all women who could become pregnant should take a vitamin with folic acid every day.
- Get regular prenatal checkups. Ultrasounds, amniocentesis and other screenings can help diagnose birth defects and help the family plan for their child's future.
- Stay away from cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs. You should discuss all medications with your obsetrician to make sure they are safe to take during pregnancy.
- Keep your distance from chemicals, individuals with infectious diseases, litter boxes and other pet waste, uncooked eggs and meat, and unwashed veggetables. If you have exposure to any of these things, make sure to wash your hands after (and often.)
- Never use alcohol during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of alcohol or safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol use while you're pregnant can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a spectrum of conditions including poor growth before and after birth; decreased muscle tone, heart defects, delayed development and more.
- Make sure chronic conditions like diabetes are under control.
- Get neccessary vacinations, such as a flu shot.