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Best for you, best for baby: Birth defects prevention month

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birth defects awareness month

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) - January is birth defects prevention month. 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect every year and 1 in 5 eventually die from their birth defect.

That is why the Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network of South Central New York is working to educate future mothers and their families.

Christie Finch, the director of perinatal programs said their message this year is "Best for you, best for baby".

The five critical steps families can take to reduce the chances of having a child with a birth defect are:

  • Taking 400 micrograms of Folic Acid every day
  • Visiting the doctor prior to pregnancy
  • Making sure mom and surrounding family are up to date on vaccinations
  • Reaching a healthy weight before pregnancy
  • Avoiding harmful substances like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco

Finch said that achieving all of these isn't always easy which is why they are there to help.

In the United States alone a baby is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes.

"There are some birth defects that are genetically predisposed that cannot be prevented so there's nothing we can do about that. For the prevention month we really are focused on making sure mom is as healthy as humanly possible," said Finch, "Having prenatal vitamins, having good prenatal care, making sure they have access to healthy food."

But for some families that isn't always easy.

"Socioeconomic status can play a huge part in whether or not you're able to eat healthy, whether or not you're able to go to the doctor."

Mothers and Babies make sure that moms have access to necessary tools like getting health insurance.

"Because if you don't have a way to pay for the doctor you're probably not going to go as often as you should."

They also connect families with a community health worker.

"They can help people gain access to healthy food, help them with snap applications, help them get connected with WIC so that women have as much access to community resources as possible."

She said it is important to remember it's not just about your health during pregnancy, but before.

"I think that's the biggest misconception is that you can have 9 months of really great prenatal care, treating your body well, doing everything you're supposed to be doing, and sometimes it can still backfire on you if you haven't done all of those things right leading up to pregnancy."

For more information on all of their programs click here.

Kaitlin Pearson

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