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Announcement: National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week — January 2016

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical conditions that affect one in every 33 U.S. newborns annually (1). Women can reduce their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by making healthy choices and adopting healthy habits before and during pregnancy.

Health care providers can encourage parents-to-be to make a PACT for birth defects prevention by taking the following steps: Planning ahead for pregnancy; Avoiding harmful substances like chemicals in the home or workplace (2); Choosing a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet (3); and Talking with their health care provider before and during pregnancy, particularly about medication use. Additional information about medication use in pregnancy is available at CDC's Treating for Two initiative website (

CDC encourages health care providers to become active participants in National Birth Defects Prevention Month by joining the nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects, their causes, and their impact. Additional information is available at

January 10–16, 2016, is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. CDC urges all women of childbearing age who can become pregnant to get 400 µg of folic acid every day to help reduce the risk for neural tube defects. Health care providers should encourage women of childbearing age to consume folic acid in fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a diet rich in folate. Additional information about folic acid is available at


  1. CDC. Update on overall prevalence of major birth defects—Atlanta, Georgia, 1978–2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2008;57:1–5.
  2. CDC. Reproductive health and the workplace. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2016. Available at
  3. Carmichael SL, Yang W, Feldkamp ML, et al. Reduced risks of neural tube defects and orofacial clefts with higher diet quality. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2012;166:121–6.

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