PCGHD shares tips prevent birth defects


PREBLE COUNTY — Every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. Simply put — it doesn’t have to be that common.

That’s why Preble County Public Health and Preble County WIC is joining with leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, and MotherToBaby this month to increase awareness of five critical tips to reduce the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Month campaign theme, “Best for You. Best for Baby.” aims to raise awareness of the roughly 4,500 birth defects cases occurring in Ohio each year. “While we can’t prevent all birth defects, the following steps increase a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby,” explained Marilyn Wilson, RD, IBCLC, Preble County WIC Program Director.

1. Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

• Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

2. Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.

• There are often benefits to continuing treatment throughout pregnancy. Discussing a treatment plan before a pregnancy allows a woman and her health care provider to weigh the pros and cons of all options to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.

3. Become up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.

• Having the right vaccinations, like the flu and Tdap vaccines, at the right time during pregnancy can help keep a woman and her baby healthy.

4. Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.

• Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications.

5. Boost your health by avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

• There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy and its exposure can cause major birth defects.

• Smoking during pregnancy can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and/or reach baby’s bloodstream.

• The opioid addiction epidemic has led to a sharp increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), premature birth and drug withdrawal in developing babies.

“Birth defects are a common cause of death in the first year of a baby’s life, but change happens through awareness,” added Jason L. Salemi, PhD, MPH, NBDPN President. “We’re thrilled Preble County Public Health and Preble County WIC is doing its part to positively change the outcome for babies across Ohio.

Follow and share #Best4YouBest4Baby messages on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

To keep up with other public health–related issues make sure to check out Preble County Public Health online at www.preblecountyhealth.org, through Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCoHealth and on Twitter at @PrebleCoHealth and WIC at facebook.com/PrebleCountyWICProgram! We are also available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m., by phone at 937-472-0087.