What to Know About Birth Defects

birth-defectsIn January, National Birth Defects Prevention is recognized across the nation. Approximately one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect in the U.S., and birth defects can range from mild to severe. They may affect organ function, physical or mental development, or appearance. To raise awareness about this serious condition during the month of January, here are some things you should know about birth defects:

  • Some birth defects can be diagnosed before birth.It is crucial to visit your doctor regularly while pregnant for tests like an ultrasound and amniocentesis, which can detect birth defects, heart defects and Down syndrome in utero.
  • There are many causes of birth defects.While the cause of most birth defects is unknown, it is true that birth defects can be linked to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
  • There are ways pregnant women can keep their unborn baby safe.Simple things like washing your hands often can greatly decrease the risk of birth defects, especially washing after using the bathroom, touching raw meat, handling pets and caring for small children.
  • Some birth defects are detected after a baby leaves the hospital.A cleft lip or spina bifida is easily detected immediately after birth, while other birth defects like heart defects are not.
  • Taking folic acid daily is important. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

The good news is babies born with birth defects today can live healthier, longer lives when given special care and newborn screenings after birth.

If you have questions about  birth defects, or if you want to learn more about the range of services provided by Women’s Care of Beverly Hills Group, contact us directly at 310-657-1600.