January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Ladies expecting the joys of motherhood know a developing baby deserves the best care a parent could give. As a way to increase the chances of a healthy delivery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a proactive approach to self-care during pregnancy—and before!
WHAT IS A BIRTH DEFECT?
A defect is a deficiency or abnormality that can happen either before or at the time of birth. It can be a physical quirk like an extra toe, or a genetic factor such as sickle cell anemia, among others. A birth defect is not the same as a birth injury, which results from medical negligence or malpractice.
Today, babies born with health defects live longer and healthier lives, thanks to specialized care and newborn screenings. Now with advanced health care, vitamins and prenatal care, women have greater chances of delivering healthier babies. Besides regular checkups, medical professionals recommend the following to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
NURTURE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Load up on Folic Acid. According to the March of Dimes, getting enough of this B vitamin before and during pregnancy can reduce brain and spine defects by up to 70%. Choosing a multivitamin that’s jam-packed with other nutrients is crucial for a healthy pregnancy: they have iron to prevent anemia and calcium for strong teeth and bones.
Invest in Some ZZZ’s. Researchers at the University of Washington found that women who slept less than six hours developed high blood pressure and higher odds of preeclampsia. A consistent sleeping schedule is important—especially early in the pregnancy. Studies also show that those who don’t get enough rest also have more problems ovulating regularly.
Say No to Junk Food. Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients is vital for the baby’s development. Avoid foods with food coloring, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup and MSGs. A woman seeking to conceive or already with child should limit processed foods, fast foods, and high sugar intake. An unhealthy, high glucose diet could cause diabetes for the child, so think twice before using the ol’ “I’m eating for two” excuse!
Beware of Prescription Drugs. Certain categories of meds have shown to pose risks to fetal development, which can cause abnormalities. If seeking to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about avoiding Class C, D or X drugs, and avoid all medications during your first trimester. If prescriptions are necessary for a pre-existing condition, discuss alternatives or non-pharmacologic treatment with your physician.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Rethink those daily happy hours. If you’re seeking to get pregnant, then it’s advised to reduce alcohol consumption—for both partners. Alcohol consumption could also affect fertility in men.
Put That Cigarette Out. Smoking can lead to premature delivery and neonatal complications. Even exposure can increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and other issues. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine also traced13% of fertility problems to tobacco use in either partner.
Easy on the Workout. While it’s beneficial to exercise to build up stamina, don't overdo it. Whether you're a competitive athlete, gym-rat, or avid runner, your activities may affect fertility.
See Your Dentist. Women who take care of their periodontal health before they’re in the family way reduce their chances of experiencing gum complications during pregnancy.
Nesting? Watch Out. Be wary when doing your chores. Chemicals in cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, and lead in drinking water from old pipes can be dangerous for a developing baby.
Keep Calm and De-stress. Research shows that having crazy-high stress levels can mess with your pregnancy goals. Recommended stress relievers include: journaling at least 15 minutes before bed, walking, or sitting in silence—especially in places that inspire calm.
Go Natural. Though there's no conclusive research that proves hair coloring is unsafe during pregnancy, most experts recommend minimizing your exposure to dyes and chemicals, especially in the first trimester when your baby's major organ growth takes place.
BIRTH INJURY CLAIMS
Nowadays, advancement in medicine has facilitated the treatment of birth defects. Greater education has allowed mothers to take adequate care to ensure the best delivery and birth for their child. While physical or mental problems are caused by factors such as drugs, medicines or chemical exposure, there are cases in which birth injuries happen because of a medical professional's negligence at the time of birth.
If the doctor does not provide proper care to the unborn child and/or mother during the pregnancy or the delivery, they may be responsible. Any failure to timely address and treat these conditions can result in injury to the mother and/or child. Although it is impossible to list all causes of birth injuries, examples include:
- Premature birth
- Prolonged labor
- Maternal complications
- Delivery complications
Birth injuries are medical malpractice claims, and handling malpractice claims can be like navigating a ship through a minefield, even for experienced litigation attorneys. At Rubenstein Law, we have lawyers with decades of experience handling medical malpractice claims.
If your child has been the victim of a serious birth injury, contact us at 1-800-FL-LEGAL or visit our office in Broward, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, St Petersburg, or West Palm Beach. We represent clients throughout Florida and are available 24/7, nights and weekends.
NOTE: This post is intended to provide general information to our readers. Information herein should not be taken as legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment plan. Note that laws vary by jurisdiction. Always seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional where necessary.