Each day, hundreds of thousands of babies are born all around the globe! Parents are delighted when children who arrive into the world healthy and happy – but sometimes it doesn’t happen quite that way.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 8 million newborn babies every year enter the world with some sort of birth defect. This could range from something fairly minor to a life-threatening problem, but 90% of these birth defects take place in low- to middle-income areas of the world.
National Birth Defects Awareness Month is here to raise awareness about these issues and also work toward better care, highlighting the efforts that can help with prevention.
History of National Birth Defects Awareness Month
National Birth Defects Awareness Month got its start several years ago and is supported and sponsored by a variety of different organizations who are working hard to promote healthy children all over the world. Some of these include the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and a range of others. In addition, many medical professionals, health care providers, and community support groups are involved with the event.
Sometimes called National Birth Defects Prevention Month, each year the 31-day event comes along with a theme that encourages the observance to focus on a particular topic. Past themes have included topics such as:
- Best for You. Best for Baby.
- Prevent to Protect.
- Make a Pact for Prevention.
How to Celebrate National Birth Defects Awareness Month
Get involved with the observance of National Birth Defects Awareness Month by checking out some of these ideas and activities:
Learn About Birth Defect Prevention
One of the best ways to observe National Birth Defects Awareness Month each January is to gain and share knowledge about prevention. Check out some of these important ways that pregnant women can provide their babies with the best possible environment for growth:
Take Prenatal Vitamins
One of the most basic things a woman can do is be sure to get at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day, both from fortified foods and from supplements. Other supplements may be needed as well, so check with a doctor or trained midwife.
Avoid Certain Substances
Alcohol, drugs (including cigarette smoking or second-hand smoke), marijuana, certain prescription medications and other substances may be harmful to an unborn baby.
See a Healthcare Professional Regularly
Prenatal care is best done as a team, with parents who are involved in daily care like diet and rest, and also medical care as soon as (or even before) a woman is pregnant.
Help Prevent Birth Defects
Even those who are not pregnant or don’t plan to be can still get involved! One excellent way to celebrate National Birth Defects Awareness Month might be to help out a charity that is striving to promote healthy births. For some, this might mean volunteering at a community health center by educating or assisting with pregnant women. For others, this may mean making a donation to a charity that helps to support pregnant women in need.