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Health Tip: Preventing Birth Defects

Start before you get pregnant

(HealthDay News) -- Not all birth defects can be prevented, but a woman can take some actions that help her chances of having a healthy baby. Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows that she's pregnant.

If you are planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant, one of the most important things you can do is to see your health care provider. Prenatal (before birth) care can help find some problems early in pregnancy so that they can be monitored or treated before birth.

The National Center of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities suggests you also do the following:

  • Get any medical condition (obesity, diabetes, seizures, etc.) under control before getting pregnant.
  • Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise moderately.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid contact with chemicals and other things in the home and workplace that may harm an unborn baby.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.
  • Talk with your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter drugs.
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