February 7, 2023

Healthke

All about your health

Ten preconception tips to help prevent birth defects

5 min read
birth defects

birth defects

A healthy child is nothing less than a gift from God. Pregnancy is an emotional, exhausting, and overwhelming journey from beginning to the end. A healthy pregnancy is the goal of every couple trying to conceive, but sometimes certain circumstances may cause congenital disabilities in babies. Although the mother’s physical health is vital for a healthy baby, every woman has some risk of delivering a baby with a congenital disability. About 3 to 4 percent of babies are born with some type of birth defect. Some defects are mild and might not need treatment, while others are serious and require life-long therapy and treatments.

Developmental problems, usually during the first three months of pregnancy, cause birth abnormalities. Heart disease, neural tube defects, Down syndrome, and cystic fibrosis are the most common birth anomalies. a Birth defect can be in the form of a visible, internal, or chemical anomaly or deformity in a baby’s body. Birth defects can be complex, whether genetic or environmental. Other than these factors, negligence of health care professionals during childbirth can also cause severe birth abnormalities. Fortunately, in any such case of childbirth injury, you can hire personal injury lawyers for legal advice and help in getting financial compensation settlements and long-term treatment and care options. They can assist with free case reviews via online live chat or in-person meetings and guide you through the legal process.

The cause of birth defects is not fully known. A slight mutation in a gene or chromosome of the baby can cause deficiencies and deformities that may affect any body part. A faulty gene from a parent can pass on to the baby and cause diseases. Cleft lips and palate, Spina Bifida, Sickle cell disease, brain, heart, and kidney defects, Dandy walker malformation, and Duodenal atresia are a few examples of congenital disabilities. Although it is impossible to prevent birth defects entirely, there are precautions a woman can take to lower her risk of having a baby with birth anomalies. A few tips are as follows:

  • Prepare before conception.

Being healthy is essential, and being healthy before conception has even higher importance. If you are in good health and shape before your pregnancy, it can save you from a lot of complications during pregnancy. Preconception health management includes checkups with your healthcare providers before conceiving to know if you have any health-related issues that may cause birth anomalies or complexities. You can wait and get treated before pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby if you have a health problem that might affect your baby.

  • Folic acid and multivitamin intake

Folic acid is a vitamin B that plays a vital role in the baby’s brain and spinal cord development. A sufficient amount of folic acid in a woman’s body can prevent the baby from severe congenital disabilities like neural tube defects and spina bifida. The recommended dose is 400 micrograms of folic acid daily at least three months before conception. Folic acid, in combination with other supplements and a balanced nutritional diet, can help manage birth complications preemptively.

  • Reduce caffeine intake

Studies have proved that caffeine intake can constrict blood vessels resulting in a low blood supply to the fetus. It may cause congenital developmental disabilities. Caffeine also interrupts fetal stress hormones, which can cause obesity, heart problems, or diabetes later in the child’s life.

  • Avoid harmful substances.

Alcohol consumption is a big no-no during pregnancy because it passes through the bloodstream to the womb. It makes it more challenging for women to conceive and harms the baby during pregnancy. Smoking cigarettes or other recreational drugs can also have the same adverse effects on fetal health and development. Smoking and drinking increase the chances of miscarriage, stillbirths, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. To have a healthy baby, you should stop consuming harmful substances before you plan to have a baby.

  • Get mentally healthy.

We all are well aware of the fact that mental health is essential for everyone. Studies have proven that a pregnant woman’s psychological stress can adversely affect a baby’s development and health. Raised levels of cortisol and catecholamine, chemicals in our body, can increase the risk of low birth weight or preterm labor. Such conditions can cause a lot of severe congenital disabilities. Women who show signs of stress and anxiety should consult healthcare professionals and seek help to reduce the risks of complications during pregnancy.

  • Up-to-date vaccinations

Vaccination for several diseases can ensure the mother’s and baby’s health and safety. it is a good idea to check your vaccination status and get vaccinated at least four months before conception to ensure the baby’s safety: flu shots, tetanus vaccines, measles, and mumps vaccine, and rubella can be prevented by having timely immunization. These vaccines act as shields to protect babies from birth malformations.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity can be a big hurdle in getting pregnant. It is associated with many risks to the mother and the developing baby and may cause infertility or delay conception. Intrauterine growth restrictions can be responsible for low birth weight in babies, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and miscarriages.

  • Have babies at a younger age.

When you are young, your body produces healthy eggs abundantly. The peak reproductive years start from the late teens to the late twenties and decrease when you hit your thirties. By the age of forty-five, it becomes complicated for women to conceive naturally. As women age, there is an increased risk of abnormal chromosomes. It increases the risk of having babies with missing, damaged, or extra chromosomes, consequently increasing the risk of congenital disabilities.

  • Screening and diagnostic tests

One effective way to discover congenital disabilities is to have screening tests during the first and second trimesters. It involves blood screening, MRI, and ultrasounds to detect heart function problems, neural tube defects, chromosomal disorders, and fetal growth.

  • Refrain from chemical exposure

Certain chemical and industrial products containing toxins can cause disabilities as they can easily pass onto babies when the mother is exposed. Lead, mercury, arsenic, carbon mono oxide, and chlorine are some of the substances that can cause birth deformities like brain damage, fetal asphyxia, and heart defects.

Conclusion

Everyone desires a healthy baby, yet many babies suffer from deformities. One could take specific preventive measures to prevent our babies from any such defects. Prenatal care can help identify and manage health and behavioral problems. The sooner any health problem is discovered, the better the chances of rectifying them.