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Uncontrolled Diabetes And 7 Other Factors That Can Damage Your Baby’s Growth During Pregnancy

Are you expecting anytime soon? Read what smoking and drinking during pregnancy can do to your baby's health way before that little one is born.

Congenital disorders, also known as birth defects are defined as the structural or functional anomalies that occur during intrauterine life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3-6% of newborns worldwide are born with significant birth defects, leading to chronic illness, disability, and infant and child mortality. In response to this alarming issue, WHO-SEARO and CDC-USA launched a comprehensive initiative in 2011-2012, helping nine countries in the region develop national plans for the prevention and management of birth defects. spoke to Dr Reema Bhat, Head, Department of Fetal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, to understand more about birth defects and what causes them. The doctor has also shared some important tips that a mother needs to keep in mind. Read on to know everything.

Are Birth Defects Preventable?

While not all birth defects are preventable, many genetic, viral, dietary, or environmental causes can lead to birth abnormalities. Therefore, taking care of oneself and acting in the baby's best interests should come first. A range of factors such as alcohol, smoking or using certain drugs while pregnant, and specific medical issues before and during pregnancy, such as obesity or uncontrolled diabetes, can increase the likelihood of having a baby with birth defects.

One of the most critical preventive measures is the consumption of folic acid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking 400 mcg of folic acid each day can help avoid some severe brain and spine birth abnormalities in the unborn child, such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Folic acid needs to be taken beginning at least one month before conception and throughout pregnancy. Consuming fortified foods like certain bread, morning cereals, and corn masa flour is another way to get sufficient folic acid.

How To Enjoy A Healthy Pregnancy?

Prior to becoming pregnant, it is also essential to implement a treatment plan for any medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, etc. This can help keep both the mother and the unborn child healthy. Additionally, getting a rubella immunization and maintaining a healthy weight before conception can help reduce the risk of birth defects.

Avoiding dangerous substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, is equally vital. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to stillbirth, miscarriage, and a variety of intellectual, behavioural, and physical problems that can last a lifetime. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth, several birth abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate, and infant mortality.

In conclusion, World Birth Defects Day is a reminder of the importance of the prevention and management of birth abnormalities. Taking care of oneself before and during pregnancy, including maintaining a healthy weight, getting necessary medical treatment, and avoiding dangerous substances, can help reduce the risk of birth defects. By promoting awareness and encouraging healthy practices, we can make strides towards ensuring healthy pregnancies and births for all.

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