Here’s how birth defects can be prevented!


When you plan to get pregnant, you realize how important good health is that can protect your baby from defects. Varied nutrition influences the child’s growth, but it is not the only factor that helps prevent congenital malformations.


Photo by Shutterstock

There are some birth defects that cannot be prevented, but expectant mothers should do everything possible to prevent the others. Usually, birth defects appear in the first 3 months of pregnancy, so they need to be very careful. A birth defect is a developmental problem that occurs when the child grows in the intrauterine phase. Some defects may appear due to genetic causes or under the influence of environmental factors, but most are favored by unhealthy habits. Fortunately, to ensure that you will have a healthy baby, you have simple solutions at hand. Following some healthy lifestyle rules can help you prevent birth defects.

Watch your body weight

Having a normal body mass index before becoming pregnant can help a baby develop smoothly. Women with an index of 30 or above have a higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by a birth defect. During pregnancy, the recommended weight gain for a woman of average weight is between 11 and 16 kg. Women considered to be obese before and during pregnancy have a higher risk of having babies with birth defects, especially those of the brain and spinal cord.

Supplement with folic acid

If you are trying to get pregnant, it is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Also called vitamin B9, folic acid prevents serious congenital malformations of the brain and spine. Include in the diet foods containing folic acid: beef, spinach, broccoli, cheese, liver, green vegetables, tuna, legumes, oranges.

Avoid certain medications

Some drugs are prohibited during pregnancy because they cross the placenta and can cause birth defects. Most medications simply do not have enough research data to support use during pregnancy because few studies are done on medications that pregnant women can take. What is known so far is that you should avoid those such as those with isotretinoin (used to treat severe acne) and the list goes on. Ask the gynecologist who monitors the pregnancy for advice on absolutely any medicine you want to take, even one that is released without a medical prescription.

Eat more diversely

Eating well is one of the best ways to ensure that your baby has the best chance of being born healthy. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium or folic acid, ensure not only you, as a future mother, the daily requirement of nutrients, but also the growing child. Having all these elements, especially if they come from natural sources, the body will absorb them better. Be sure to increase your protein, fruit and vegetable intake throughout your pregnancy.

Quit smoking

Quitting smoking before becoming pregnant is strongly recommended, but stopping this habit even during pregnancy is beneficial for the baby. Smoking can cause dangerous chemicals to damage the placenta and enter the baby’s bloodstream, causing certain birth defects. And alcohol should be avoided, even just an occasional glass, because it increases the risk of birth defects or miscarriage.

To remember!

Ask your gynecologist for absolutely any medicine you want to take during pregnancy.

Expert advice

Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, specialist in obstetrics-gynecology, with overspecialization in infertility

Taken before becoming pregnant, but also during the first weeks of pregnancy, folic acid reduces by about 70% the risk of fetal malformations related to the development of the neural tube, such as spina bifida. The neural tube forms in the first 3-4 weeks of fetal life and develops to form the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid also reduces the risk of malformations such as cleft lip or cleft palate, reduces the risk of congenital heart disease of the fetus, reduces the risk of premature births, helps the formation of the placenta. The amount of folic acid needed should only be adjusted by the doctor, according to recent analyses, with special attention being paid to pregnant women diagnosed with diabetes or celiac disease and those who are overweight.