Best Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects

January 16, 2024

Having a baby is like a fresh start full of excitement and possibilities. Taking good care of yourself during pregnancy and doing everything you can to be ready helps ensure a healthy beginning for your little one.

While you can't prevent all birth defects, proper prenatal care goes a long way in protecting your unborn baby. It gives you peace of mind, knowing you're doing your best for a healthy start in your baby's life.

Best healthy practices which can prevent birth defects:

  • Make an effort to get to and stay at a healthy weight. A woman who is obese before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications and birth defects during pregnancy.
  • Keep diabetes/ hypertension under control. Poor control of diabetes/ hypertension before during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defects and other serious complications during the pregnancy.
  • Get 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid daily.  If a woman has enough folic acid in her diet or starts taking folic acid supplements at least two months before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the developing brain and spine.
  • Get a baseline evaluation of common lab investigations after consulting the healthcare provider. Evaluate haemoglobin levels, thyroid function, blood sugars, Thalassemia/ Sickle cell anaemia and immunity against rubella etc.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider if you are on long term medications (seizure disorder, psychiatric illness). A woman should consult with her healthcare professional before starting any new medicine or stopping any that she currently uses if she is pregnant or intends to become pregnant.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider about vaccinations (shots). The correct vaccinations at the proper times keep both you and your baby healthy.
  • Avoid toxic substances and environmental contaminants. Avoid smoking, alcohol, harmful chemicals, environmental contaminants, and other toxic substances such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent faeces around the home and in the workplace.
  • Treat fever quickly and try not to overheat. Avoiding overheating and treating fevers quickly are advised during pregnancy. Fever or exposure to high temperatures, such as entering a hot tub, can cause overheating by raising the body's core temperature. Certain birth abnormalities can be more likely to occur in a child born overheated.
  • Become mentally sound. A person's mental state affects how they feel, think, and behave when navigating life. You must value yourself and feel good about your life in order to perform at your best. Everyone experiences tension, worry, anxiety, and sadness occasionally. Seek assistance if these emotions do not go away and are interfering with your day-to-day activities.
  • Learn your family history and discuss with the healthcare provider. Based on your family health history, you might need genetic counselling- several miscarriages, infant deaths, or trouble getting pregnant (infertility), or having a genetic condition or birth defect that occurred during a previous pregnancy.
  • Avoid getting exposed to radiation.X rays, CT scan can cause harm the unborn. MRI is however safe in pregnancy.




By Dr Pundalik Baliga
Dr Pundalik Baliga is a consultant of fetal medicine at KMC Hospital, Mangaluru.
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Comment on this article

  • Alphonse Rodrigues, Udupi

    Thu, Jan 18 2024

    I am really feeling pain in the present generation. Having married early and delaying for consummation just to say bluntly that I am young. After enjoying enough there's no consummation becomes worrisome for many. Why no consummation?! Astonishing?! Some do marry and consummate early, later decide one only is enough. Deciding themselves by choosing only one, just to confirm and show to the society that they have been granted eligibility. Now the young are deciding a dangerous trend which is called live-in relationship. Few of them decide IVF to have baby. Some females have problems of DNA or genetics which I cannot blame of no consummation. It is beyond humans reach. Totally the genealogy among the rich is dwindling considerably. Dr. Pundalik do you have any suggestions with regard to this. So thanking you for the article.

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai-Mangalore

    Thu, Jan 18 2024

    BTW, due to various factors, the fertility rates in both sexes have come down drastically especially in metro cities giving lot of scope for IVF and other related clinics to flourish inevery nook and corner! It's the irony of mother nature that couples living on the streets with barely zero access to medicine get too many babies; whereas those well off financially struggle hard, and often times spend tonnes of money to get a single child!!

  • David Pais, Mangalore

    Thu, Jan 18 2024

    Dr Pundalik Prabhuji, good 👍 article. As per my knowledge, girls marrying at the age of 8-17 and becoming pregnant will give defective birth of a child, because becoming pregnant at the early age delivers a faulty baby, where the mother herself requires mental and physical growth. In my point of view how a mother can deliver a healthy baby when she herself needs sufficient mental and physical growth?! Kindly shed some light on it. Thanks.

  • Joseph F. Gonsalves, BlueBells, Mangalore

    Thu, Jan 18 2024

    Excellent article. May you write up more and more articles on children so as to get knowledgeable information to new pregnant females/mothers for healthy babies. Thanks.

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai-Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 17 2024

    With 37% of our children suffering from severe malnutrition, no idea about maternal malnutrition all because of extreme poverty, where do we stand with all these recommendations??

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 17 2024

    Good article but with covid jabs, miscarriages, still births in western countries are increasing ? There's been a 20% to 30% drop in live births since the outset of the vaccination campaign as per Dr Paul Marik's following referenced testimony on Children's Health Defense twitter status Ref:

  • kumar, india

    Wed, Jan 17 2024

    good points to be noted. Congratulations for the write up. people and also all animals are conceiving and delivering from time immemorial. There is a tendency to do lots of tets in the name of care of unborn babies, many of them are too costly for majority of indian population. Have seen couple earning 15 to 20 000 per month spending more than 50 thousand for various tests during pregnancy & on caesarean delivery costs more than one lakh. They struggle for rest of the life to adjust with this financial burden. Do we need so many tests in pregnancy ?? How come animals deliver without any prenatal check ups ?? Don't know , million dollar question !! God bless all.

  • Stany Jovin Menezes, Muscat

    Tue, Jan 16 2024

    Good Article ! - For expectant parents, following these guidelines is essential in promoting a healthy start for their baby, as each recommendation is rooted in evidence-based practices to reduce the risk of birth defects. Adhering to these measures not only provides peace of mind but also actively contributes to the overall well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.

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