Tag Archives: alcohol

Leading Health Experts Emphasize Five Effective Ways To Prevent Birth Defects

Every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. It doesn’t have to be that common. That’s why DHEC is joining with leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, Teratology Society and MotherToBaby this month to increase awareness of five critical tips to reduce the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Month campaign theme, Best for You. Best for Baby,” aims to raise awareness about the infants born with birth defects in South Carolina each year. In 2017, 1,142 infants were identified by the SC Birth Defects Program as having a birth defect. While we can’t prevent all birth defects, the following steps increase a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby.

  1. Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
  • Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
  1. Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
  • There are often benefits to continuing treatment throughout pregnancy. Discussing a treatment plan before a pregnancy allows a woman and her health care provider to weigh the pros and cons of all options to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.
  1. Become up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.
  • Having the right vaccinations, like the flu and Tdap vaccines, at the right time during pregnancy can help keep a woman and her baby healthy.
  1. Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.
  • Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications.
  1. Boost your health by avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy and exposure to it can cause major birth defects.
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and/or reach the baby’s bloodstream.
  • The opioid addiction epidemic has led to a sharp increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), premature birth and drug withdrawal in developing babies.

According to Jason Salemi, PhD, MPH and president of the NBDPN, “Birth defects are a common cause of death in the first year of a baby’s life, but change happens through awareness.”

 How You Can Help

 DHEC encourages health advocates as well as the public to be an active participant in National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Follow and share #Best4YouBest4Baby messages on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. The complete 2019 NBDPN Birth Defects Prevention Month information packet, including this year’s primary tips for birth defects prevention, “Best for You. Best for Baby. 5 Tips for Preventing Birth Defects,” is available online at: www.nbdpn.org/bdpm.php.

Additional Resources to Support Healthy Pregnancies

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) strives to advance the health and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.

www.cdc.gov/birthdefects

 American Academy of Pediatrics

Dedicated to the health of all children, providing age-specific health information.

www.healthychildren.org

 MotherToBaby, a free service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)

Communicate directly with experts about exposures, like medications, vaccines and more during pregnancy and breastfeeding by calling toll free (866) 626-6847, texting questions to (855) 999-3525, live chatting or emailing at

www.MotherToBaby.org

The Teratology Society

An international and multidisciplinary group of scientists, including researchers, clinicians, epidemiologists and public health professionals from academia, government and industry who study birth defects, reproduction and disorders of developmental origin.

www.Teratology.org

March of Dimes

An organization aiming to make sure babies get the strongest start possible as well as reducing the rate of prematurity.

www.marchofdimes.org

The SC Birth Defects program is committed to improving birth defects prevention, research, and referrals in South Carolina. The program can be reached at scbdp@dhec.sc.gov.

DHEC in the News: Secondhand smoke in children, liver cancer, foodborne illness

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Dangers of secondhand smoke in children

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and strokes.

In short, it is deadly. Yet, people still smoke.

Many smokers believe it calms their nerves and reduces their appetite. However, this article is not about convincing people to stop smoking. As adults, you already know that you should stop and why. This column is about the dangers of smoking around children and what you can do about it.

Liver cancer deaths soar in South Carolina, across the US

Deaths from liver cancer are up a staggering 43 percent overall nationwide, and South Carolina’s rate is higher than the national average, federal health officials say.

While a number of factors could be to blame, including alcohol and tobacco use, experts point to rising rates of hepatitis C, or HCV, as the main culprit.

General Interest
Foodborne illness may be on the rise. Here’s why

(CNN) One child drank apple cider at a Connecticut farm, another a glass of juice during a road trip in Oregon; later, both were rushed to emergency rooms as they struggled for their lives. A middle-aged woman became sick more than a decade ago after enjoying a salad at a banquet hosted by a California hotel; her debilitating symptoms continue to this day.

A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers “with everything, to go” and died days later.

These are the stories behind the faces on the “Honor Wall” of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit that represents and supports those who suffered a drastic consequence following the most ordinary act: eating.

It’s Sleep Awareness Week: Be Sure You Get Your Zs

sleepSleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan.

Join the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week, March 11 to 17, 2018. This year’s theme, “Begin with Sleep,” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals.

A good night’s sleep can depend on:

How much sleep do you need to be your best self?

Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like.

To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interfere with our “circadian rhythm” or natural sleep/wake cycle.

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress.

Check out the Bedtime Calculator, which can help you plan your sleep.

sleep chart

Make Sleep a Priority

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep.

Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, “How often do I get a good night’s sleep?” Like good diet and exercise, sleep is a critical component to overall health.

To pave the way for better sleep, follow these simple yet effective healthy sleep tips, including:

If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day or when you expect to be awake and alert, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care physician or  find a sleep professional to determine the underlying cause.

You may also try using the National Sleep Foundation Sleep Diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period and bring the results to your physician.

Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done; stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.