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Birth Defects Prevention

Preparing for a healthy baby should start well before conception and continue throughout pregnancy.  This is important because many birth defects occur very early in pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.  Although the cause of many birth defects are not known, there are Points of Prevention or steps women can take to increase the probability of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Click on the links below to learn more.

Maximize Good Health Before Pregnancy

Achieving and staying in good health is beneficial throughout every life stage.  The Ohio Department of Health urges all women to take good care of their health, whether they plan to have a baby one day or not.  Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.  Being healthy before pregnancy helps women have healthier babies.

If you are a woman of childbearing age, take preventive care measures, which include:

  • Maintaining your physical and dental health
  • Setting up a preconception health care visit with your health care provider
  • Assuring your immunizations are up-to-date (chickenpox, MMR, flu)
  • Preventing  Infections (CMV, toxoplasmosis, STDs)

If you currently have any medical conditions, be sure they are in control and being treated. Some of these conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Recurrent infections
  • Lupus
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart conditions
  • Clotting disorders
  • PKU
  • Other health problems

Additional Maternal Health Related Resources

 

Monitor Use of Medications

Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines when taken during pregnancy may be harmful to an unborn baby.   It is important to discuss your need for medications with your doctor before you become pregnant.  Only take medications that are necessary and discuss alternatives with your doctor ahead of time should you become pregnant.  Never stop taking a medication without talking with your doctor first.

Additional Resources Related to the use of Medications before/during Pregnancy

 

Avoid Household and Work Hazards

Chemicals found in household products and in the workplace are widely used all over the world.  Although there is substantial information on the acute toxicity of many of these chemicals, available knowledge on delayed effects is much more limited.  In today’s world, a large percentage of the workforce consists of women and a considerable proportion are of reproductive age.  As most birth defects are not tied to known risk factors, attention to the risk of birth defects due to environmental and occupational exposures is of increasing interest.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a U.S. federal agency, under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   It’s mission is to assure safe and healthful working condition for every working person.  NIOSH conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness.  One of many NIOSH research areas includes the area of reproductive health and birth defects prevention. 

The NIOSH reproductive topic page includes information on how occupational and environmental exposures can affect fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and children’s health.  Advice on improving workplace reproductive health is provided for employees, employers, and health care providers.  Click on the following link to access the reproductive topic page: NIOSH Occupation & the Environment Resource

Additional Resources Related to Occupation & the Environment