SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and this year the Georgia Department of Community Health is focusing their campaign on medication use before, during and after pregnancy. According to the DCH, birth defects one in every five deaths of children less than one year of age is caused by birth defects. The DHC reports that two out of every three women take prescriptions during pregnancy. They say women should always consult with a doctor about which medications are safe to take while pregnant.
"Pregnant women should discuss with their health care providers about which medications are safe to take as some medications may pose a risk to the unborn child," said DHC Maternal and Child Health Director Brian Castrucci in a news release. "By living a healthy life style and proper use of medications, women can decrease their chances of delivering a baby with birth defects."
The DCH says that not all medications have to be discontued during pregnancy. They may just need to be changed or adjusted. Also, some medical conditions such as diabetes, influenza and asthma may harm both the mother and baby if left untreated. Doctors should weigh the benefits of medication against the potentially harmful effects. Birth defects can happen very early in a pregnancy and can even happen before a woman knows she is pregnant.
The following are some steps from the DHC that women can take to get ready for a healthy pregnancy:
- Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid every day
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs
- Keep hands clean by washing them often with soap and water to prevent infections
- See a health care professional regularly
- Talk with the health care professional about any medical problems and medicine use (both prescription and over-the-counter)
- Ask about avoiding any substances at work or at home that might be harmful to a developing baby
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it
- Avoid eating raw or under cooked meat
For more information about birth defects, visit www.health.state.ga.us.