Birth defects occur before a baby is born. Most birth defects occur in the first three months of pregnancy, when the organs of a baby are forming. However, some birth defects occur later in pregnancy. During the last six months of pregnancy, the tissues and organs continue to grow and develop, according to the CDC. Factors that contribute to birth defects include genes, behaviors and things in the environment. According to the Adverse Pregnancy Reporting System (APORS), which collects information on Illinois infants born with birth defects, almost 500 babies are born daily in Illinois. Of those, 35 will be reported to APORS and 20 will have birth defects.
While not all birth defects can be prevented, the CDC suggests that there are things a woman can do to in- crease chances of having a healthy baby:
- Take 400 mcg of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant Don’t drink alcohol or smoke
- Talk to your health care provider about taking any medications, including prescription and over-the- counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements
- Learn how to prevent infections during pregnancy
- If possible, be sure any medical conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant
For more information about the St. Clair County Health Department screening program and to determine eli- gibility, call 618-825-4485. For more information about the Health Department services and programs, visit our website.