Written by Pradeep
Birth defects is a heartbreaking topic to discuss, but it’s an important topic for which awareness and education must be spread among people. Receiving the proper information can help in preventing, understanding and treating birth defects. Birth defects are the conditions that start developing when baby is in mother’s womb and is present when the baby is born. They are often the result of a combination of factors like genetic, environmental and individual behavior. There are almost 60% of birth defects whose causes are still unknown to us.
There are many birth defects which can’t be prevented, however there are a few required steps which women can take to increase the probability of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.Here are some helpful ways which you can use to prevent birth defects while you are pregnant or planning to have your baby:
If you are thinking about planning your baby, it’s best to start preparing prior to conception. You can always consult your doctor about it. Many birth defects occur during the first three months of pregnancy so it’s of great importance to see your doctor. Discuss your medical and family history before you conceive. It would be most beneficial for the women who had a previous history of child defects. Discussions with your doctor can help you address the specific risk that may contribute towards negative effects on baby.
[Read : Preconception Checkup ]
Taking folic acid before and after pregnancy can reduce the risks of certain birth defects related to nervous system of your baby at least up to 70%. These defects are called neural tube defects (NTD), the most common NTD effects are spina bifida, anencephaly and encephalocele. Please keep it in mind that all these defects mostly happens within first month of your pregnancy, usually before a women knows that she is pregnant. That’s why it’s very important to start folic acid not just only for those who are pregnant but who are planning to be a mother.
If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, please start making a habit of saying NO to alcohol. So that you can prevent your child from congenital birth defects. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, inhibit fetal growth and can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol can cause lifelong growth and behavioral problems know as FADs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder).
Smoking during pregnancy can have hazardous effects on your baby. By smoking you are not only harming yourself but also putting your unborn child into a dangerous position. Few dangers of smoking in pregnancy are premature birth, low birth weight and certain other defects like cleft palate. Quitting smoking before you get pregnant is best. In case of working women please make sure that your job doesn’t involve any kind of exposure to smoke or toxic substances. Please consult your doctor if your job involves any such risks.
A healthy mother means healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Your lifestyle choices can have direct impact on your baby, start adopting healthy habits like eating healthy, regularly, and on time. Start some light exercises as it can help you in maintaining a healthy weight. Start some yoga and meditation for stress free mind. The babies of women who are overweight have increased risk of birth defects and other complications related to labor and delivery. A stress free healthy mother is key for healthy baby.
There are so many infections that a woman can get during pregnancy like Toxoplasmosis and genital herpes which can be harmful to the unborn child. They can cause defects like hearing impairment, mental retardation or learning disability. So try including healthy hygiene habits like washing hands properly, eating well cooked meal, and staying away from people who have any kind of infection. You can also take advise from your doctors to know about ways to avoid these infections and what to do if you are exposed to them.
During pregnancy there are some vaccines that are important for a pregnant mother. Mostly all doctors make a chart for vaccines to be given, don’t try to miss them and never be afraid of taking them. They can strengthen your immune system. So that the body can fight better with serious infectious diseases and thus helping and saving your child from various child birth defects. Get also a pre-conception check-up done.
[Read : Vaccinations Before Planning A Baby]
During pregnancy taking medication without any doctor’s prescription can be very dangerous as certain medications increase the likelihood of birth defects. As per general rule, medications are not advised during pregnancy unless they are absolutely necessary because many of them can harm your baby but sometimes medications are essential for health of a pregnant women and the baby. Don’t use any health supplement even if it’s herbal without your doctor’s consent. Your doctor may recommend you some multi vitamins, calcium or folic acid tablets. Please remember any medicine taken by you reaches the fetus through placenta. Even your medicines for headache should be approved by doctor.
Although there are many birth defects which cannot be prevented especially defects related to genetic component. But still screening and treatment methods are useful in avoiding the complications of birth defects. Many fetal anomalies can be detected through ultrasonography and maternal serum screening tests. Neural tube defects and chromosomal disorders can also be detected in the fetus through these tests.
Even a lot of responsibility lies on women in order to maintain a healthy life style still your life partner can also play an important part in preventing health defects. Offering support to your partner particularly when she is undergoing through significant changes of lifestyle, such as adopting healthy diet and quitting the habit of smoking. Their additional level of encouragement and care can make big changes a little bit easier.
Birth defects can have a serious physical and emotional impact on the affected families. Of course, causes of birth defects are still unknown to us but there is no need to treat them as a death sentence. There are so many researchers working on it and doing everything they can to understand them. Knowing an answer from these researches can give hope to so many mothers and families.