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Birth Defects Prevention Month

National Birth Defects Prevention Awareness Month

Each year the month of January is designated National Birth Defects Prevention Awareness Month.  This annual campaign is promoted by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The NBDPN is a network of birth defects programs and indivduals working at the local, state, and national levels in birth defects surveillance, research, and prevention.

The NBDPN Education and Outreach Committee develops materials and resources to assist state program staff and others interested in promoting birth defects prevention during January.  Each year, the committee selects a different theme to highlight a specific defect or issue.  CDC Birth Defects Prevention Month lists information regarding all previous themes.

The 2014 National Birth Defects Prevention Month theme is "Birth Defects are Common, Costly and Critical."  The complete Birth Defects Prevention 2014 packet is available.  This packet contains educational information for legislators, health professionals and general public  Many of the resources may be reproduced or ordered without a cost or with a low cost.

National Folic Acid Awareness Week

January 5-11, 2014 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week.  Adequate folic acid intake is important for the prevention of birth defects and good health in women of childbearing age.  The National Folic Acid Council (NCFA) and the CDC has available information and resources for outreach efforts and education for the public.

Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant mortality.  Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.  Medical care and support services only scrape the surface of the financial and emotional impact of living with birth defects.

The good news is awareness efforts offer hope for reducing the number of birth defects in the future.  The following prevention strategies can be promoted.  Please encourage all pregnant women and those who may become pregnant to:

  • consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
  • manage chronic maternal illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders, or phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
  • avoid alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs
  • see a health care provider regularly
  • avoid toxic substances at work or at home
  • ensure protection against domestic violence
  • know their family history and seek reproductive genetic counseling, if appropriate

Updated 9/10/2014