My bountiful wishes for a happy and healthy new year to all our enthusiastic KWAY readers! The start of a new year is all about resolutions and promises. To us doctors, January has a special significance. January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. Every year, as a part of the campaign initiated by the National Birth Defects prevention network, we try to create awareness about this issue. The theme for the new year 2019 is "Best for You. Best for Your Baby."

What are birth defects?

Birth defects are abnormal conditions that happen before or at the time of birth. Some are mild - like an extra digit on the hands or feet. Some are very serious - like a congenital heart defect. The cause for such defects is multifactorial. For instance, Down's syndrome and sickle cell anaemia, are caused by genetic factors. Some are caused by drugs, medicines or chemicals. There are certain unexplained mysterious factors as well. Scientists continue their efforts to learn the causes of birth defects so that we can find ways to prevent them.

Best for You. Best for Your Baby.

How serious are birth defects?

Birth defects can cause major physical, mental, or medical problems. Also, the main challenge associated with such defects is that not all birth defects can be prevented and treated.

Prevent to protect

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by doing what you can to be your healthiest self both before and during pregnancy. We also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by reducing their risk of getting an infection during pregnancy.

Best for You. Best for Your Baby.

Tip 1 - Take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is a B-vitamin that can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.

Tip 2 - Book a visit with your doctor before stopping or starting any medicine. Get early prenatal care and go to every appointment.

Tip 3 - Have the right vaccinations at the right time. Get a flu shot and Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby. Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent infections.

Tip 4 - Reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat.

Tip 5 - Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.

At Kauvery Hospital we offer comprehensive obstetric services for pregnant mothers including targeted anomaly scans. We also have a team of paediatricians who provide special care after birth and routinely advocate new-born screening tests.

All said and done, whether or not you are planning a pregnancy, now is the time to prevent birth defects.

Act Now!

Best for You. Best for Your Baby.

Article by Dr. Lakshmi Prashanth, MD (AIIMS)
Consultant Pediatrician
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai.


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