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Facts about Birth Defects

Facts about Birth Defects: "Major birth defects are conditions that cause structural changes in one or more parts of the body; are present at birth; and have a serious, adverse effect on health, development, or functional ability.
About one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect.1 Birth defects are a leading cause of infant death, accounting for more than 1 of every 5 infant deaths.2 In addition, babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects.


Some birth defects can be prevented. There are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby:

* Take 400 mcg of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant.
* Don’t drink alcohol, smoke, or use “street” drugs.
* Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. Also talk to a doctor before stopping any medications that are needed to treat health conditions.
* Learn how to prevent infections during pregnancy.
* If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions that increase the risk for birth defects include diabetes and obesity.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, see your healthcare provider. Prenatal (before birth) care can help find some problems early in pregnancy so that they can be monitored or treated before birth.

More tips to prevent birth defects »