Preventing Birth Defects – All You Need to Know!

Every mother-to-be needs to be aware of certain conditions that might affect her baby. One of those is the risk of birth defects. 1.7 million babies are born with birth defects every year in our country as per UNICEF, India.

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can reduce the risks by taking certain precautions.

Here are 4 measures you can take to help you prevent birth defects:

  1. Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle– Leading a healthy lifestyle is all about making healthy choices. Various studies show that an obese woman having a BMI of more than 30 is at a higher risk of complications during pregnancy. Some serious birth defects can be prevented if one maintains healthy weight before and during pregnancy.

What can you do?

  • Exercise regularly (consult your obstetrician about the best course of action)
  • Consult your nutritionist for a personalized diet plan and eat healthy meals
  • For light exercise, you can go for short regular walks
  • Attend prenatal yoga sessions, which will help calm your senses.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight.

In case, you are an expectant mother and have diabetes, you need to take precautions advised by your obstetrician. If left unchecked gestational diabetes can cause serious complications for the unborn baby. You can prevent birth defects and other problems by keeping your blood glucose levels in control. Consult your nutritionist for a healthy diet plan and get ample exercise.

  1. Keep away from Alcohol and Cigarettes

Drinking and smoking are a BIG NO during pregnancy. The alcohol passes through your bloodstream and the placenta to your baby. As your baby is still developing in the womb, be mindful that the liver is the last organ that develops.

It is important to abstain from alcohol and all other harmful substances. Drinking alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy can result in miscarriage or preterm birth. Even after the first three months, drinking  may result in the baby being born with birth defects.

What can you do?

  • opt for a healthy lifestyle and consume healthy drinks like fresh juices
  • Meditate – Meditation helps you to take control of your mind and body
  1. Include Folic Acid in your diet

If you are planning to embrace motherhood or are pregnant, Folic acid is a diet essential. WHO advises pregnant women to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps create new cells in our body.

Why Folic acid?

  • It helps form the neural tube
  • Prevents major defects at birth
  • Helps prevent defects in the baby’s brain and spine.

What can you do?

  • You must take 400 mcg of folic acid every day during pregnancy
  • Include folate-rich foods in your diet each day, all through your pregnancy.
  1. Avoid Self-medication

Most women  self-diagnose medical issues and take certain medicines without consulting their doctors. From menstrual problems, abortion to back pain and other issues. On an average, nearly one-third of pregnant women practice self-medication using  herbal and/or conventional medicine.

Effects of self-medication:

  • Impacts foetal health
  • The medicinal product or chemical agent can cause morphologic or physiological abnormalities in the baby.
  • Can cause developmental delays in the baby .

What can you do?

  • You must consult your doctor before taking any medicine/drugs
  • Be aware of all the medicines you take
  • Rely on the doctor’s advice.

All in all, the risk of birth defects can be reduced  to a large extent if mothers adhere to  prenatal care. At Fernandez Hospital, we have an experienced team of obstetricians, nutritionists, and childbirth educators who can help you have a healthy pregnancy.

To know more, call 1800 419 1397 (toll free).

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