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Local doctors raise awareness for birth defects

US Births
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 01:52:07-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Did you know that Birth abnormalities are common?

They affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States. That's why the CDC recognizes January as National Birth Defects Awareness month, but it’s not just about what happens after the delivery it’s also about having a healthy pregnancy.

According to the CDC, and a local doctor, you can make a commitment to yourself to have a healthy pregnancy.

The first is to plan ahead. If possible, get as healthy as you can before you get pregnant and get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Next is to avoid harmful substances. Avoid drinking alcohol or doing drugs at any time during pregnancy.

Third is to choose a healthy lifestyle: eat a healthy diet, be physically active and strive to maintain a healthy weight.

Lastly, talk to your healthcare provider and make sure you have your medical check-ups and talk with your doctor about medications.

Dr. Juan Lopez, Chair of the OBGYN Department at Kern Medical and Omni Family Health, told 23ABC it’s important to speak with your doctor if you know you want to get pregnant.

“There are several studies that we do including blood tests to detect birth defects. There are also ultrasounds that we use early on in the pregnancy, in the first trimester, and then the anatomy scan in the second trimester. So again, that emphasizes the point that the patient should see prenatal care as soon as they think they are pregnant.”

Lopez also added while some birth defects are genetic and can’t be prevented, others can be because of low weight or folic acid deficiency.

He stated that there are two birth defects that are the most common.

“We see these days that there are a lot of birth defects involving cardiac anomalies that tends to be the most common birth defect. Then a very close second, is what we call neural tube defects. An example of that is spinopia and abdominal wall defects.

Lopez said to talk with your healthcare provider if you need support or resources on best ways to take care of your baby.