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OBSTETRICS • GYNECOLOGY • FAMILY PRACTICE

Topic of the month : Healthy Pregnancy

HEALTHY PREGNANCY

Congratulations, you're pregnant! Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Knowing that you are doing all you can to stay healthy during pregnancy and give your baby a healthy start in life will help you to have peace of mind.

Preventing Problems


Folic Acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent major birth defects. Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day, before and during pregnancy.

Smoking during pregnancy is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. Learn more about the dangers of smoking and find help to quit.

Alcohol: When you drink alcohol, so does your unborn baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

Vaccinations: Talk to your doctor about vaccinations (shots). Many are safe and recommended during pregnancy, but some are not. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you and your baby healthy.

Infections: You won’t always know if you have an infection—sometimes you won’t even feel sick. Learn how to help prevent infections that could harm your unborn baby.

HIV: If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, get a test for HIV as soon as possible and encourage your partner to get tested as well. If you have HIV and you are pregnant, there is a lot you can do to keep yourself healthy and not give HIV to your baby.

West Nile Virus: Take steps to reduce your risk for West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne infections.

Diabetes: Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chance for birth defects and other problems for your baby. It can cause serious complications for you, too.

High Blood Pressure: Existing high blood pressure can increase your risk of problems during pregnancy.

Photo: Doctor examining a pregnant woman

Medications: Taking certain medications during pregnancy might cause serious birth defects for your baby. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any medications you are taking. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements.

Environmental and Workplace Exposures: Some workplace hazards can affect the health of your unborn baby. Learn how to prevent certain workplace hazards.

       Unborn Babies Exposed to Radiation:  If you think you might have been exposed to radiation, talk  

       with your doctor. 

More Information:

Birth Defects:

Monitoring Birth Defects

Research

Prevention

Spina Bifida:

Spina Bifida Association

Medline
National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke
March of Dimes

Anecephaly:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Organization for Rare Disorders

Resources:

References

  1. Canfield MA, Honein MA, Yuskiv N, Xing J, Mai CT, Collins JS, et al. National estimates and race/ethnic-specific variation of selected birth defects in the United States, 1999-2001. Birth Defects Res Part A Clin Mol Teratol. 2006;76(11):747–56.
  2. Williams LJ, Rasmussen SA, Flores A, Kirby RS, Edmonds LD. Decline in the prevalence of spina bifida and anencephaly by race/ethnicity: 1995-2002. Pediatrics. 2005;116(3):580–6.
  3. Watkins ML, Rasmussen SA, Honein MA, Botto LD, Moore CA. Maternal obesity and risk for birth defects. Pediatrics. 2003; 111(5):1152-58.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spina bifida and anencephaly prevalence--United States, 1991-2001. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002;51:9–11.