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Birth Defects



Not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can take some actions that increase your chance of having a healthy baby. The tips below can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Plan your pregnancy

Most birth defects occur very early in pregnancy, sometimes before you know that you are pregnant. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned.

  • See your health care provider before you become pregnant.
  • Control any medical condition (obesity, diabetes, seizures, etc.) before getting pregnant.
  • Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy.

A pregnant African American woman sitting outside eating berries after exercisingTake care of yourself

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise moderately.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid contact with chemicals and other things in the home and workplace that may harm an unborn baby.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.
  • Talk with your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter drugs.

A doctor taking a pregnant women's blood pressure with her husband looking onIf you are planning to get pregnant or you are already pregnant, one of the most important things you can do is see your health care provider. Prenatal (before birth) care can help find some problems early in pregnancy so that they can be monitored or treated before birth. Some problems might be avoided with prenatal care.

Read more about Preventing Birth Defects

Check out CDC's What You Should Know Pregnancy tips and planning information.


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