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Digital Press Kit

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States. They are a leading cause of death among U.S. infants, accounting for about 20% of mortality in the first year of life. In addition, babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about the frequency with which birth defects occur in the United States and of the steps that can be taken to prevent them.  While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are things a women can do get ready for a healthy pregnancy.

  • Be fit. Eat a healthy diet and work towards a healthy weight before pregnancy.
  • Be healthy. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Be sure to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during early pregnancy.  Work to get health conditions, like diabetes, in control before becoming pregnant.
  • Be wise. Visit a health care professional regularly. Consult with your healthcare provider about any medications, including prescription and over-the counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements, before taking them.

Managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnancy can increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Follow these guidelines before and during pregnancy.

Selected Quotes

Many people don’t realize how common birth defects are—they affect almost 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States. Most of us know someone affected by these conditions—a child born with cleft lip and palate; a young girl with Down syndrome; a co-worker who has lost a baby due to a severe heart defect.
- Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, CDC’s Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Birth defects can have a serious physical and emotional impact, not only on those affected, but also on their families and communities. At CDC, we think about these people and their families and work to make a difference in their lives. We work to identify the causes of these conditions, find ways to prevent them, and help improve the health of people living with birth defects.
- Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, CDC’s Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Although not all birth defects can be prevented, there are steps women can take to increase the chances of having a baby born without birth defects. Small steps like visiting a healthcare provider regularly and consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy can go a long way. Eating a healthy diet and working toward a healthy weight, keeping diabetes under control, quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke, and avoiding alcohol—all can help increase the chances of having a healthy baby. It’s also important to remember that many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so planning a pregnancy is key and can also help make a difference.
- Leslie Beres, MSHyg, President, National Birth Defects Prevention Network

Related Links

CDC Resources:

Information for HCP/Scientific Audiences

Additional Resources:

Videos
NBDPN’s Birth Defects PSAs
NBDPN’s Birth Defects PSAs

Author: National Birth Defects Prevention Network
Date: 12/2012
NBDPN’s Birth Defects PSAs

My health, my choice, my future.
My health, my choice, my future.

Author: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Date: 10/15/2012
My health, my choice, my future.

Medication Use in Pregnancy
Medication Use in Pregnancy

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 3/7/2011
Medication Use in Pregnancy

Preconception Health
Preconception Health

Author: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Date: 10/15/2012
Preconception Health

Me? Have another baby? Preconception Health
Me? Have another baby? Preconception Health

Author: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Date: 10/15/2012
Me? Have another baby? Preconception Health

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokesperson
Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg

Graphics/Charts
Birth Defects poster
Birth defects affect us all. What effect will you have on birth defects? Learn more about birth defects visit www.cdc.gov/birthdefects
Pregnant Women
Every 4.5 minutes a baby is born with a birth defect. We want to help you reduce that risk. Learn more about prevention, detection, treatment and living with birth defects at www.cdc.gov/birthdefects
The top 5 causes of infant deaths in 2008
The top 5 causes of infant deaths in 2008 were birth defects (5,681); low birth weight and prematurity (4,757); SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] (2,350); maternal complications (1,775); accidents/unintentional injuries (1,314).
Ashley
Caleb
Hannah
Zach

Photo: Boy holding up his infant picture CDC Birth Defect’s Flickr Album

Podcasts

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