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Health Department Notes

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

The Woodford County Health Department is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) and the Kentucky March of Dimes to raise awareness of birth defects and to promote strategies that reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications. Join us in promoting National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

Birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.

Although not all birth defects can be prevented all women who could become pregnant or are pregnant can lower their risk of having babies with birth defects by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. These include:

Get vaccinated

• Get the flu shot and the whooping cough vaccine.

• Become up-to-date with all vaccines before getting pregnant.

Prevent insect bites

• Use repellent. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (para-menthane-3, 8-diol) are most effective.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.

• Consider avoiding travel to areas with Zika virus.

Practice good hygiene

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Avoid putting a young child’s cup or pacifier in your mouth.

Talk to your healthcare provider

• Ask about how you can prevent infections, such as Zika virus.

• Discuss how to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

January is a perfect time to call additional attention to the importance of folic acid in preventing certain birth defects. The United States Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (400mcg or .4mg) of folic acid daily to prevent up to 50-70% of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Small steps like visiting a healthcare provider before pregnancy and taking a multivitamin every day can go a long way.

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