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HHS HealthBeat

Beating birth defects before pregnancy

Pregnant woman.

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Unhealthy habits may cause birth defects in babies during the first two months of pregnancy, which is often before a woman realizes she’s pregnant. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Stuart Shapira says it’s why healthy living is so important to women who could become pregnant. He says good health habits can reduce the risk of some birth defects.

Shapira says the habits include not smoking or drinking, working toward or keeping a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar if a woman has diabetes, discussing with healthcare providers all medications and supplements, and taking 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.

“These behaviors should start even before a woman becomes pregnant, and continue throughout the pregnancy.”

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.