Birth defects can be diagnosed even before a baby is born through prenatal tests. By identifying the problems early on, it can help parents and doctors plan for the future. However, keep in mind that prenatal tests are not always accurate. Some screening tests show that a baby has a defect, only to be born perfectly normal; or vice versa.
Nevertheless, prevention is always better than cure. While some birth defects – namely those that are genetically affected – can’t be avoided, there are some things that mothers can do to lower the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.
1. Mothers should always make sure that their vaccinations are up to date.
2. Make sure that they are clear of any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
3. Get the daily recommended dosage of folic acid before trying to conceive. These supplements should also be taken throughout the pregnancy as it can help prevent defects of the spine and brain.
4. Avoid unnecessary medicines and always consult their doctor before trying anything new. Some medications that are normally safe can cause serious birth defects when taken by a pregnant woman. They should inform their doctor about any medications that they may be taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
5. If the mother has a family history of birth defects, or is part of a high-risk group, they should meet with a genetic counselor to determine the baby’s risk.
6. Take prenatal vitamins and have a healthy diet during pregnancy.
7. Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
8. Avoid all illicit drugs.
9. Stay away from alcohol.
10. Get exercise and plenty of rest. Women with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, should also take special care to manage their health.
11. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any sort of infection or illness.
12. Avoid unnecessary X-ray examinations.
13. Get early and regular prenatal care.