By Vinita Oberoi Leedom, SC Birth Defects Program Manager
Every year in South Carolina, approximately 1,800 infants are born with a birth defect. That means roughly 1 in 33 babies born in our state each year will have a birth defect. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) this January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, to raise awareness of the prevalence of birth defects and strategies that reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications.
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, all women who could become pregnant or are pregnant can lower their risk of having a baby with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. This includes, “making a PACT for prevention”:
- Get as healthy as you can before you get pregnant.
- Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Avoid harmful substances.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
- Be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.
Choose a healthy lifestyle.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fats and oils.
- Be physically active.
- Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.
Talk to your doctor.
- Get a medical checkup.
- Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Talk about your family history.
Efforts to raise awareness of this prevalent issue help to provide hope for reducing the overall number of birth defects. The South Carolina Birth Defects Program has resource materials available on our website to assist you in raising awareness of birth defects as a public health issue in your community. For more information about birth defects, please click here.