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Health Department Articles

Make a PACT to Prevent Birth Defects

The Montgomery County Health Department Is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invite women and their families to make a PACT for birth defects prevention all year long.

In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes.  Seventy-eight babies were born right here in Montgomery County with some type of birth defect between the years of 2005 and 2010.  The most prevalent defects were related to the heart, followed by musculoskeletal system, (bones and muscles), genital and urinary system, digestive system, and central nervous system.  Birth defects related to respiratory concerns, orofacial issues and chromosomal issues were the least prevalent in Montgomery County during the six year time period. Birth defects can lead to lifelong challenges and disability.  Furthermore, they are also the most common cause of death in the first year of life and the second most common cause of death in children aged one to four years. Public awareness, expert medical care, accurate and early diagnosis, and social support systems are all essential for optimal prevention and treatment of these all-too-common and sometimes deadly conditions. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but women CAN increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors BEFORE becoming pregnant.

This year, the Montgomery County Health Department encourages all women to make aPACT for their own health and the family they may have one day:  Plan ahead, Avoid harmful substances, Choose a healthy lifestyle, and Talk to a healthcare provider.  By making the PACT, women can reduce the risk of having a child with a birth defect and also reduce their risk of pregnancy complications, such as early pregnancy loss, prematurity and stillbirths.

 “Most people are unaware of how common, costly, and critical birth defects are in the United States, or that there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of birth defects,” says Lupe Pena, Maternity Care Nurse at the Montgomery County Health Department.  “The health of women prior to pregnancy can affect the risk of having a child with a birth defect. Diet, lifestyle choices, factors in the environment, health conditions and medications before and during pregnancy all can play a role in preventing or increasing the risk of birth defects.  Small steps, like making healthy choices, visiting a healthcare provider well before pregnancy, controlling your weight through healthy diet and activity, and taking a multivitamin every day, can go a long way,” says Pena.

To learn more about how you can prevent birth defects please contact the Montgomery County Health Department at 910-572-1393.