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Preventing Birth Defects

Posted on Jan 30, 2020

Recommendations to decrease the chances of birth defects include taking folic acid, staying up to date on vaccinations, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But Jennifer Arnold, M.D., M.Sc., presents some tips for you to increase your chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and by adopting healthy behaviors before and during pregnancy. If you are diagnosed as a high-risk pregnancy, be sure you get the fetal care needed by seeing a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist recommended by your obstetrician.

The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Fetal Care Program provides one seamless plan for expectant mothers with complex and high-risk pregnancies.

Healthy Behaviors Include:

Take folic acid.

Taking folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby's brain and spine. These birth defects develop very early during pregnancy when the neural tube, which forms the early brain and the spinal cord, does not close properly. Talk to your obstetrician about the right amount for you to take.

Be up-to-date with your vaccinations.

Vaccinations will protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccine (also called Tdap) during your pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.

Try to maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are underweight, overweight, or have obesity, talk with your health care provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Focus on a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Live a healthy lifestyle

Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs during pregnancy.

The annual A Woman’s Journey health symposium, held at locations throughout the Tampa Bay area in March, will provide women across our region the opportunity to learn, share and explore the latest in women’s health care topics. For more information, visit the link above or contact the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation at 727-767-4199.


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