January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month — an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which hopes to shed light on the issue of fetal health. While there are many birth defects which can’t be prevented, with the right care there are steps that mothers can take to make certain birth defects less likely.
Birth defects include a wide array of issues, including both mild problems and life-threating conditions.
"Birth defects are the most common cause of mortality in infants and occur in up to 20% of infant mortality," says Dr. Amy Wagner, a pediatric surgeon at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She specializes in caring for newborns.
Along with taking a daily prenatal vitamin and taking care of yourself, Wagner says there are steps pregnant people can take to reduce the risk of life-altering defects.
"Even when it's not preventable, the benefit of having good prenatal care in a center that takes care of birth defects regularly is invaluable," says Wagner.