January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

OK (KSWO)- Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Each year, 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects in the U.S., with more than 2,100 cases occurring in Oklahoma.

"Most people don't know how common, costly, and critical birth defects are in the United States, or that there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of birth defects," said Lisa Caton, the director of Screening and Special Services at the OSDH.

Not all birth defects can be prevented but there are steps that can be taken to increase a woman's chance of having a healthy baby:

  • Drinking alcohol while pregnant can hurt the baby’s brain, heart, kidneys, and other organs.
  • Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin that the body needs to make new cells. It can help prevent up to 70 percent of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs).
  • Vaccinations help protect the mother and child against serious diseases.
  • Health care providers should encourage their patients to avoid putting a young child’s cup or pacifier in their mouth to reduce the risk of CMV infection.
  • It is important to wash your hands for 20 seconds after contact with bodily fluids to reduce the risk of getting sick.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, visit the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry website at www.obdr.health.ok.gov.

Information provided by Oklahoma State Department of Health.