3 Pre-Pregnancy Steps that Help Prevent Birth Defects

by |  January 17th, 2012
  

You’ve lined up an ob/gyn and started taking steps to get pregnant. Congratulations! The odds are definitely stacked in your favor for conceiving a healthy baby. The fact that you have sought prenatal care indicates your commitment as a parent-to-be.  You know that the choices you make today can impact your unborn baby.

The March of Dimes reports that 120,000 babies are born with physical and/or mental birth defects each year in this country. The most common birth defects include: heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida.

Ob/Gyns Identify and Protect Against

Ob/Gyns help women prevent birth defects by advising them of steps to take prior to getting pregnant and during pregnancy.

Birth Defects

Sonograms and prenatal visits to Health Central Women’s Care can reveal these common birth defects, and, in some case, medical intervention that can correct some issues in utero.

It is possible to prevent certain birth defects by taking action prior to and during pregnancy. The doctors at Health Central Women’s Care advise all of their obstetrics patients to take proactive steps to help prevent birth defects.

  1. Abstain from alcohol, illegal drug use and certain prescription drug use. Ask your ob/gyn doctor about which over-the-counter and prescription drugs are deemed safe for unborn babies. The March of Dime and CDC also caution against smoking cigarettes while pregnant.
  2. Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, beginning at least one month before you get pregnant. This B vitamin helps decrease the risk of brain and spinal defects–spina bifida and anencephaly–by 50-70% according to the CDC. You can get your folic acid in a multivitamin or a bowl of breakfast cereal with 100% daily value of folic acid.
  3. Talk with your ob/gyn doctor about preventing infections and whether your vaccinations are current. You’d be surprised how simple actions like changing the cat litter, eating brie or undercooked meat or a lapsed immunization schedule can impact your unborn child. Ask about a fact sheet to learn more about Health Central Women’s Care recommendations.

While it can seem overwhelming to imagine what can go wrong in pregnancy, all the Health Central physicians reassure their patients every day, arming them with the facts that can help increase the odds of a normal pregnancy. Simply by living in an industrialized nation, one with iodine in our salt and folic acid in our cereal, flours and grains, we protect our babies from neural tube birth defects.

If you plan to get pregnant in 2012, make an appointment with one of the skilled and caring obstetricians at Health Central Women’s Care.  The best time for that appointment is 3-4 months before you want to start “trying” to get pregnant.

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About

Dr. Ann Woodbridge has been in practice since 1989, and has provided quality health care for women in the Margot Perot Center at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas since 1991. She is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and specializes in obstetrics, gynecology infertility and menopause. Dr. Woodbridge and her husband have three children. In her leisure time she enjoys spending time with her family.


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