Birth Defects Prevention

While some birth defects cannot be prevented, there are actions that you can take to decrease a baby’s risk for many birth defects. Birth defects can cause disabilities that affect a child for the rest of his life. Here are seven things that you can do to help prevent birth defects from happening.

Don’t use tobacco

In addition to increasing the risk for birth defects, smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can damage the placenta and increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and infant death.

Don’t drink alcohol

There’s no safe time and no safe amount of alcohol for a mother to drink during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a number of lifelong health problems. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders cause physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.

Do not use drugs

The decisions a pregnant mother makes directly affect the development of her child. Avoid drug use during pregnancy. Pregnant women should talk to their physician before starting or stopping the use of any medication.

Healthy choices

Any positive, healthy actions a pregnant woman takes can benefit her health and the health of her baby. Be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, and eat healthy foods.


Certain infections increase the risk for birth defects during pregnancy. Preventing infections can in turn help prevent birth defects. The CDC offers information on how to prevent infections before and during pregnancy.

Folic acid

Women need folic acid each day, even if they do not plan on becoming pregnant. Research shows that consuming the recommended amount of folic acid (400mcg each day) before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.


The research on caffeine and pregnancy is inconclusive. Some papers suggest that caffeine increases the risk for complications, while other research indicates that caffeine has little or no effect. Talk to your physician regarding caffeine and pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor

Visit your physician regularly through your pregnancy. Your doctor can help you make sure that you’re doing everything you can to ensure that your baby is healthy.

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