January Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and January 4-10th is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. There is a reason why the two are observed in the same month.

One of every 33 babies born in the United States is born with a birth defect and birth defects cause 1 in 5 infant deaths. Seventy percent of birth defects have no known cause. Thirty percent are caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Many birth defects occur during the first three months of pregnancy when many women are not aware that they are pregnant. It is important for a woman to be aware of her own personal health, risks and behaviors BEFORE becoming pregnant.

Some of the most common birth defects include heart defects, cleft lip and palate, Down Syndrome, neural tube defects like spina bifida, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

To decrease the risk of birth defects, do not drink alcoholic beverages, do not smoke cigarettes, avoid second hand smoke, and do not use illegal drugs. It is very important to get early and regular prenatal care and to take a prenatal vitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic Acid helps a baby’s brain and spine (more…)