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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall is the public information director of the Henry/Stark Health Departments.
Blog: Reducing risk of birth defects
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Rae-Ann Tucker-Marshall
Henry-Stark Health Department
June 26, 2013 10 a.m.

Birth defects are 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.

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