Press release submitted by RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall |
"HEALTH DEPARTMENT STAFF NOTES NATIONAL BIRTH DEFECTS PREVENTION MONTH"
The WIC and Case Management staff of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments in conjunction with the March of Dimes and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network announce that January has been designated as National Birth Defects Prevention Month. In accordance with this important health observance, the WIC and Case Management staff is increasing awareness of birth defects, the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. In fact, every 4 and 1/2 minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect. The risk for many types of birth defects can be reduced though healthy lifestyle choices and medical interventions before and during pregnancy.
There are many different kinds of birth defects including congenital heart defects, cleft lip or palate, defects of the brain or spine, and a variety of genetic syndromes such as Down syndrome. Some have only a minor or brief effect on a baby's health and some have life-threatening and/or life-long effects.
More than 120,000 babies born with a birth defect (approximately 1 in 33 live births) are reported each year in the United States.
"Most people are unaware of how common, costly and critical birth defects are in the United States, or that there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of birth defects" says Heather Aldred, RN Health Department WIC/Case Management nurse. "The health of both parents prior to pregnancy can affect the risk of having a child with a birth defect. Diet, life-style choices, factors in the environment, health conditions and medications before and during pregnancy all can play a role in preventing or increasing the risk of birth defects."
Aldred adds, "Small steps like visiting a health care provider before pregnancy and taking a multivitamin everyday can make a big difference. Also, women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant can take control of their health to improve their chance of a healthy pregnancy. Good habits include regular physical activity, about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or more. Healthy eating means having a balanced diet, low in fats, with at least 5 or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables. A woman should talk to her healthcare provider about making healthy changes for a successful pregnancy."
For more information on the Health Department WIC and Case Management services call the Health Department at (309) 852-5272 (Henry) or (309) 852-3115 (Stark) or visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments.