NH DHHS Recognizes National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) along with the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program (NHBCP) are joining over 350 members of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) to alert women of childbearing age about the critical link between diabetes and the increased risk for birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and this year’s prevention message focuses on the issue of diabetes among women of childbearing age.

“All types of diabetes, not just gestational, have been linked to birth defects when the disease is not carefully controlled,” says DHHS’ Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. “The prevalence of diabetes in women of childbearing age has doubled in the last decade, affecting 1.3 million nationwide. In New Hampshire, more than one in 20 women who give birth are affected by diabetes.”

Although diabetes has been identified as a public health concern, often times the public is unaware of the complications that uncontrolled diabetes can have on both the pregnant woman and her baby. Studies have demonstrated that the key to a healthy pregnancy for women with diabetes is keeping blood glucose in target range -- both before and during pregnancy. Babies born to women with diabetes with poor diabetes control are at greater risk for birth defects. “Small steps like visiting a health care provider before pregnancy and taking a multivitamin with folic acid everyday can make a big difference,” says Stephanie Miller, Program Manager for the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program.

The NHBCP is participating in National Birth Defects Prevention Month with prevention activities in Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) sites throughout the state and through providing free information on birth defects prevention offered through the NH DHHS. “Through these efforts across the state we reach thousands of women with vital prevention information,” says Miller.

To learn more, please contact Stephanie Miller at the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program at 603-653-3457 or stephanie.d.miller@dartmouth.edu.