Birth Defects

Most parents realize that soon after their first child is born that their lives are not their own anymore. There is now someone in the world whose needs come before their own.

A lot of moms don’t know that this responsibility begins as soon as they get pregnant. Most birth defects occur in the first trimester, or the first 12 weeks the woman is pregnant. A lot of moms don’t know they are pregnant for the first few weeks after conception.

Many birth defects are preventable. Everyone knows about fetal alcohol syndrome, that’s when a pregnant mom drinks alcohol and it leads to serious problems for her developing baby.

Smoking while pregnant can lead to premature or low birth weight babies and cleft lip or palate.

Other defects can be caused by moms who are underweight or overweight while pregnant or moms who are older. And, of course, all pregnant women should consult with a doctor before taking any kind of drugs. Even something as innocent as hopping into a hot tub can raise the mom’s body temperature and damage her child.

Things to Remember 

Birth defects also can be caused by things completely out of an expectant mom’s control, like genetics, infections, fever, or diabetes.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? So what is a mom to do?

The Centers for Disease Control advises women to see a doctor as soon as they know they are pregnant to get prenatal care. Taking 400 mg of folic daily before and during pregnancy can help prevent major defects in the developing baby’s brain and spine.

Moms should also talk to their physicians to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations, including a flu shot.

Pregnancy is a time for staying away from sick people, getting lots of rest, and eating healthy foods. Sounds like advice that moms give their kids every day.

By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Centers

Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas

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