January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month. According to the CDC, the goal is to “raise awareness about birth defects and highlight efforts to improve the health of people living with these conditions across their lifespan.”
When you think of the term ‘birth defect’, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a tiny baby who was born without a limb. Or perhaps you think of a baby born with something like Alcohol Fetal Syndrome. Often, our thoughts about birth defects are generally focused on what is happening during the first few days, months, and possibly even year of life.
However, living with a birth defect goes beyond the first year of life. From before and during pregnancy to the infant years and on through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood – birth defects can create difficult challenges throughout each stage of life.
According to the CDC, “Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That means nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year.” Looking ahead, that statistic also means that nearly 120,000 children, teens, and adults will still be struggling with a birth defect all throughout life.
How Can You Make a Difference for National Birth Defect Awareness Month?
The most important thing you can do is to focus on prevention. Not all birth defects are preventable but for those that are, your support to raise prevention awareness among your circle of friends and family could change a life forever.
Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Birth Defects
The CDC has provided some wonderful tips and resources on how to prevent birth defects. Here are a few suggestions from the CDC that you can do or encourage others to do starting today.
- Avoid alcohol anytime during pregnancy.
- Avoid smoking of any kind during pregnancy.
- Choose to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Talk to a healthcare provider about taking medications.