5 Health Tips to Reduce the Risk of Birth Defects
Whether you are an expecting parent or planning a pregnancy, ensuring your future child’s health should be your top priority. The choices you make during your pregnancy can significantly impact the health of the baby and may even result in birth defects. This makes it all the more important to make sure that those choices are healthy ones.
That said, it’s important to note that not all birth defects are preventable. Some of them may not even be immediately apparent. Still, a mother-to-be should do her best to adopt healthy behaviors not only during pregnancy, but also prior to conception. With that in mind, here are five health tips you need to follow to reduce the risk of birth defects.
Make regular visits to the doctor your top priority
One of the first things you want to do before starting a family is to visit your healthcare provider regularly. A doctor can be of invaluable help in the process of identifying the risk of birth defects. This is especially true when it comes to women with diabetes and other preexisting health conditions planning a pregnancy.
Studies suggest that these women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects. By prioritizing regular visits to your doctor, you can manage your and your baby’s health more effectively during your pregnancy.
Take preventative steps to protect your child’s future health
Prevention is better than cure, and this is especially true when it comes to pregnancy. Expectant mothers should do everything in their power to prevent bad things from occurring to their children. Oftentimes, this will mean putting trust in a cord blood bank to protect their child’s future health. A potentially life-saving method, cord blood banking involves the collection, storage, and preservation of stem cells derived from the umbilical cord after birth.
That way, in case the need for stem cell treatment arises, the family who saves them can use the stem cells to treat various illnesses while protecting their children into adolescence and even potentially into adulthood.
Reach a healthy weight before trying to conceive
Maintaining a healthy weight is not only key to adding years to your life and ensuring overall health and well-being. It is also an important factor that can largely influence your future child’s health. Weighing less than what’s recommended according to your height can lead to premature birth and other complications.
Being overweight or obese can also lead to pregnancy complications and increase the risk of the development of birth defects. Consult with your doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight, and do so long before trying to conceive. That way, you’ll escape the risks that come with going on a diet and losing weight while pregnant.
Focus on improving your health before becoming pregnant
Other than your weight, you should also pay attention to your overall health and well-being and make some improvements. Consuming harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and narcotics is not only harmful to mother’s health but it can also contribute to an increased risk of birth defects. These defects include everything from congenital disabilities and intestinal defects (e.g. gastroschisis) to heart and kidney defects and growth problems. Continuous use of substances during pregnancy also increases the risk of premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Aside from breaking bad habits, mothers-to-be should also pay attention to the food they consume. Focus on eating nourishing, vitamin-rich foods and exercise on a regular basis. You should also consider adding prenatal supplements such as folic acid to your diet to prepare your body for pregnancy. Ideally, you’ll start taking 400 mcg of folic acid one month prior to conception, and continue taking it throughout pregnancy.
Make sure you stay up to date with vaccines
Last but not least, staying up to date with vaccinations is essential for preserving your and your unborn baby’s health. Vaccines provide the protection you and your baby need from serious diseases. Contracting certain infections and diseases such as rubella and chickenpox during pregnancy can have detrimental effects on your baby’s health. The former may cause developmental problems and poor fetal growth. The latter may lead to limb defects, intellectual disabilities, and, in some cases, miscarriage.
Keep in mind that administering certain vaccines such as MMR vaccine is not safe during pregnancy. Therefore, it’d be best that you get necessary shots like these before getting pregnant. Then, you should stay up to date with all other vaccines such as Tdap and a flu shot during pregnancy.
Although birth defects are common, there are ways for mothers-to-be to reduce the risks and ensure a healthy, safe pregnancy. With these five health tips in mind, you can rest assured that you’re doing what’s best for your little one.
As a parent-to-be, your child’s future health should be your top priority, and that means adopting healthy behaviors that help reduce the risk of birth defects.
I am a freelance writer and father. I enjoy writing about health, food, nutrition, and children’s health for other parents. Freelance writing has always been my passion along with fitness so I combined the two and hopes to be able to share my passion with others!