NH DHHS - January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month

Concord, NH – In honor of January as National Birth Defects Prevention

Month–2015, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) and the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program, Geisel School of

Medicine at Dartmouth is inviting New Hampshire women and their families to

make a PACT to reduce the risk of birth defects in their future children by

making healthy choices throughout their reproductive years. Even though

not all birth defects can be prevented, women, including teens, can lower

their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following some

basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years:

Plan ahead

Avoid harmful substances

Choose a healthy lifestyle

Talk with your doctor

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. Every 4 ½ minutes a baby is

born with a major birth defect in the United States. In New Hampshire, more

than 2,800 new birth conditions have been reported to the NH Birth

Conditions Program since tracking began in 2003. Become an active

participant in Birth Defects Prevention Month and join a nationwide effort

to raise awareness of birth defects, their causes, and their impact.

“The health of women prior to pregnancy can affect the risk of having a

child with a birth defect,” said Stephanie Miller, Director of the NH Birth

Conditions Program. “Diet, lifestyle choices, factors in the environment,

health conditions, and medications before and during pregnancy all can play

a role in preventing or increasing the risk of birth defects.”

“Small steps, such as making healthy choices, visiting a healthcare

provider well before pregnancy, controlling your weight through healthy

diet and activity, and taking a multivitamin every day, can go a long way,”

said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS.

Women and their loved ones are encouraged to participate in their PACT and

take these important preventive steps that can lead to a reduction in the

number of birth defects. Learn more about the effect you can have on birth

defects at the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website at

www.nbdpn.org/bdpm2015.php  and www.nhbcp.org .