World Birth Defects Day


On March 3, 2019, St. Elizabeth Healthcare will proudly join in on the 5th annual World Birth Defect Day to spread global awareness on birth defect prevention, care and research. Birth defects are considered any physical, chemical or anatomical defect present at birth, affecting how the child’s organs and other body processes develop and function.

The focus of the World Birth Defects Day organization is to raise awareness that birth defects are common, costly and critical. Their mission is to share vital information about birth defects to urge more surveillance, research, prevention and care for individuals with birth defects and their families. Some key awareness messages include:

  • Birth defects are a significant cause of child mortality.
  • Eight million babies worldwide are born with a serious birth defect each year; three million of those babies will die before their fifth birthday.
  • Children who survive with birth defects may face a lifetime of disability, requiring access to healthcare services to improve their quality of life.
  • All populations and countries are affected by birth defects. However, the impact is especially significant on low and middle-income countries.
  • Appropriate treatment and care is critical in helping these children and adults throughout their lives.

Healthy Choices to Help Prevent Birth Defects

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many birth defects can be prevented by committing to healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.

The CDC recommends incorporating the following tips into your lifestyle before trying to get pregnant:

  • Avoiding any alcohol, smoking cigarettes and drugs (including marijuana).
  • Prevent infections (avoid places with Zika, use soap and hand sanitizer, avoid raw or undercooked foods, etc).
  • Get tested for STDs, including HIV and hepatitis B.
  • Ask your doctor about group B strep.
  • Take a prenatal vitamin every day.
  • Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least one month before trying to get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.
  • Get active and make healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy BMI before getting pregnant.
  • Discuss your medications with your physician and make sure they are safe to take while pregnant.
  • Get up-to-date on your vaccines.
  • Get the flu shot each year to protect yourself and your baby for up to six months after delivery.

Angela Scroggins, Nurse Manager of the St. Elizabeth Maternal-Fetal Center, says that being proactive about your health is key.

“The most important thing is to see an OB provider, whether you are pregnant or planning to be,” says Angela. “They will create a plan of care to maximize your health and the health of your future baby.”

St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers a comprehensive Women’s Health program, including OB/GYN, maternal-fetal specialists and genetic counselors. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (859) 331-4665.