January is Birth Defects Month—and Here’s Why
Birth defects are the leading cause of newborn death in the United States
One in 33 babies born in the United States has a birth defect. Birth defects are responsible for one in five infant deaths in the U.S. As we kick off a new year, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 120,000 babies will be born with a birth defect by the end of the year. Many conditions and symptoms are included under the umbrella of birth defects. Birth defects may refer to heart defects, conditions affecting the muscles and the bones, brain defects, and others. There are approximately 4,000 different birth defects that can be present in a newborn.
Some birth defects are essentially incompatible with life, and babies with such birth defects will die within a few hours or days of being born. Other birth defects are much milder and may not even be noticed for months or even a few years after birth.
Raising awareness of birth defects
The CDC is encouraging families to raise awareness of birth defects. With more awareness, families will understand how to prevent birth defects and how to make sure their doctors are doing everything necessary to monitor their babies’ health.
The first idea is to spread a “thunderclap” on social media. Using the hashtag #Prevent2Protect, a unified message will be released on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr on January 18 that spreads awareness. You can sign up here.
If you or a loved one is living with a birth defect, you can create a post and use the hashtag #1in33. You can also search for this hashtag to find public social media posts from others affected by birth defects.
Share a post, photo, or video and tag it with #Prevent2Protect on social media. You could offer healthy eating tips, exercise tips, or other steps that are used to prevent birth defects. Of course, before trying any tips you see on social media, you should check with your doctor.
What causes a birth defect?
Birth defects most often manifest during the first three months of pregnancy, maybe even before a woman has any idea that she is pregnant. However, a defect may occur at any point during pregnancy. Genetics and environmental factors are thought to be the cause of many birth defects. Some may even be caused by medical malpractice. For many other birth defects, the cause has not yet been determined.
There are, however, steps that mothers and families may take to increase their odds of having a healthy baby.
When a woman decides to start trying to conceive a baby, she is usually advised to begin taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid prevents a number of defects, such as neural tube defects that may inhibit development of the brain and spine.
Additionally, women are typically counselled to avoid specific substances, like alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs. According to the CDC, no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Alcohol may lead to stillbirths, miscarriage, and a number of disabilities. Smoking and recreational drugs may lead to infant death, preterm birth, and other serious complications. In addition to not smoking, pregnant women should also avoid secondhand smoke.
One of the most important steps a woman may take to prevent birth defects and birth complications is to regularly see her doctor throughout her pregnancy. The doctor will carefully monitor the baby’s development, and, if any issues arise, the doctor may order additional testing to check on the baby’s health. Ultrasounds, genetic testing, and even blood tests may help a doctor determine if a baby has a birth defect or health condition.
During January, let’s do what we can to help the CDC raise awareness of birth defects. Let’s encourage healthy pregnancies. And let’s do what we can to make sure our doctors deliver healthy babies in a safe and error-free way.
If you think that your baby’s birth defect was caused by medical negligence, call the leading Ohio birth injury attorneys today
At The Eisen Law Firm, our Ohio birth injury attorneys have represented numerous clients whose children and loved ones suffer from birth injuries and birth defects. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.