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Preventing Birth Defects

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, there are things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby.

· Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly and start prenatal care as soon as you think you might be pregnant.

· Get 400 micrograms (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 any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. Don't stop or start taking any type of medication without first talking with a doctor.

· 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.

Annie Havner, R.N., BSN, IBCLC, is a maternal health nurse and an internationally board-certified lactation consultant at Lake Regional Family Birth Center.