Making healthy choices during pregnancy can reduce the chance of birth defects.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of 33 babies born in the United States will have a birth defect, meaning nearly 120,000 babies are affected each year.
Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part of the body. They may affect how the body works, looks or both. Birth defects are common and are present in babies anytime before, during or after birth or pregnancy. Most are found within the first year of life.
Being aware of your health during pregnancy is imperative. Putting healthy foods and recommended vitamins in the body while avoiding harmful substances can prevent some birth defects in a child.
“American Indians have a higher occurrence of having a child with specific birth defects,” Ashton Gatewood said, OKCIC’s Public Health Director. “This is primarily because of the lack of prenatal care available for Native American women. Therefore, we aim to provide awareness and prevention methods to expecting mothers, in addition to our prenatal classes.”
Below are some tips to increase the likelihood of a healthy baby:
- See a health care provider regularly and speak to them about your vaccinations
- Get enough folic acid
- Avoid alcohol and other harmful substances, including cigarettes and drugs
- Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) to reduce the chances of your child contracting a disease
- Prevent infections by washing your hands often and avoiding people with an infection
- Avoid unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses
- Avoid rodents and animal feces, including litter boxes
OKCIC patients receive group and individual prenatal care education with Eagles Nest Prenatal Program. This four week course offers expecting mothers and families education on prenatal and dental health, family unit and breastfeeding, preparation for birth, and newborn care and safety.
The goal of these prenatal programs is to reduce the risk of pre-term births and improve healthy outcomes for mom and baby.
For more information, contact OKCIC at (405) 948-4900 ext. 467.