Why Improved Pre-Pregnancy Health is the Key for Reducing Birth Defects
January 10, 2017 by Josh Grant- In the national effort to reduce infant mortality, special attention has to be paid to the leading cause–birth defects. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 3 percent of newborns in the United States every year have birth defects, and that 20 percent of all infant deaths can be attributed to these conditions.
While it is impossible to completely prevent all birth defects, focusing on health before pregnancy is the best measure for reducing the risks of some birth defects, as well as other concerns that can affect the health of a new mother and her children. As a result, pregnancy planning and clear, effective communication with healthcare providers are critical for all families.
The Power of Conversation
Preconception health and health plans for women can start with a single question -- “Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?” When providers frame the possibility of a pregnancy within a year, women can better contextualize that outcome with their other goals and lifestyles.
“The answer–be it a definitive yes or no, or uncertainty–provides guidance for women and their healthcare providers on what health goals should be reached and what type of treatment needs to be undertaken to minimize the risks associated with pregnancy,” says Pat Heinrich, NICHQ Executive Project Director of the national Infant Mortality CoIIN initiative.
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