Posted by Dana Hinders on February 17, 2012
Every mother hopes for a healthy baby, but it’s important to be aware of the risk of birth defects. The March of Dimes reports that approximately 120,000 babies in the United States are born with a birth defect each year. Some birth defects are caused by factor’s beyond the mothers control, some are caused by preventable factors, and others have no known cause at all.
There are many different factors that can contribute to birth defects. For example, some birth defects are more prevalent among people of certain ethnicities. Some birth defects, such as Down’s Syndrome, are more common among older mothers. If a mother contracts an STD while pregnant, this could cause a birth defect. Prenatal testing can detect many of these birth defects.
What can an expectant mother do to prevent birth defects? Do not drink when you are pregnant. Limit your exposure to environmental toxins, and be cautious when taking any prescription medications. For example, antidepressants such as Zoloft, Celexa, and Prozac have been linked to a higher than average rate of birth defects. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking prescription medication during pregnancy with your healthcare provider.
If you had a few drinks or took antidepressant medication before you realized you were pregnant, this does not mean that your baby will be born with a birth defect. While you should certainly try to avoid risky behavior in the future, do not feel guilty for what was done in the past. Discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider to evaluate the potential risk.
If your baby is born with a birth defect, it’s understandable to be scared, angry, or confused. However, many birth defects are treatable. For example, a child with clubfoot caused by antidepressant use has a very good prognosis if treatment is begun within the first few months of life. Your baby’s healthcare provider will explain all of the available treatment options. For many types of birth defects, there are parent support groups that you can turn to for additional information.