Birth defects affect roughly one in 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant death.
January has been set aside as National Birth Defects Prevention Month and the Jackson Health System (JHS) in Miami-Dade County is offering tips for expectant mothers on how to increase their ability to have a healthy baby.
Here are some steps a woman can take to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
According to JHS, many of the causes of birth defects are unknown but women can greatly increase their ability to have a healthy baby by not drinking alcohol, smoking and taking illegal drugs.
Women who are trying to become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue to do so throughout the pregnancy. Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin that the body needs to make red blood cells which prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
Pregnant women should see their doctor regularly for prenatal care, which helps keep both the mother and baby healthy. Babies born to mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low-birth-weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get such care, JHS says.
Jackson provides a full range of maternity services to women at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the Civic Center in Allapattah, Miami; the Jackson South Community Hospital in South Miami-Dade; and Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami.
The services are offered also at Jackson’s network of clinics: North Dade Health Center, Jefferson Reaves Sr. Health Center and Rosie Lee Wesley Health Center.
The healthcare system says women who go to Jackson to give birth receive round-the-clock access to top physicians and a highly qualified neonatal intensive care unit.