Preventing Birth Defects: How Early Pregnancy Care Plays A Large Role

Posted on: 13 May 2015

Many children in developing or "third world" countries are born with birth defects. Since most of them are never seen by a physician due to poverty or distance from adequate healthcare, the true number of children with congenital malformations is unknown. Even though the United States is not considered a developing country, it too, has its share of babies with birth defects. An estimated 25% of these babies' defects could have been prevented with very good prenatal care. Here is how early intervention and prenatal care plays a large role in preventing birth defects.

Delayed Prenatal Care

Most women are not aware that they are pregnant until they have missed their first period. Even then, several women may ignore the signs because they are stressed or overworked. Since conception, the embryo's cells divide and grow into a life form with a primitive, but rapidly beating heart. Your baby's lungs, liver, ears, eyes, and kidneys all begin developing during this time. Women who ignore the signs or avoid getting a pregnancy test and continue to drink alcohol, smoke, consume dangerous drugs, or come into contact with toxins put their embryos and fetuses at risk for birth defects. If you suspect that you're pregnant, either take a home pregnancy test or talk with a professional like The Woman's Center OB-GYN Associates.

Preventing, Stopping, Reversing and/or Lessening Birth Defects

The very best thing you can do if you suspect you are pregnant is to stop any potentially harmful behaviors right away. As a pregnant woman, you'll need to seek immediate pregnancy care, which will include the following:

  • Changes in diet
  • The addition of prenatal vitamins and extra folic acid to prevent brain and spinal cord defects
  • Changes in unhealthy habits and behaviors, including drug rehab and detox (if it applies to you)
  • Special tests, including amniocentesis and blood work that can confirm or deny the presence of certain preventable birth defects
  • Consistent baby monitoring via ultrasound for any babies that have high-risk mothers
  • Diabetes treatments (if it applies to you)

Often, when moms discover that they are pregnant and get medical care right away, they can stop the advancement of birth defects, lessen the severity of the birth defects significantly, and even help treat really minor birth defects (some of which can be detected or seen prior to birth). In addition to these steps, some obstetricians can now perform prenatal/ in utero operations on your baby that can increase your baby's overall health and prognosis.