January 2017: Birth Defects Awareness Month

WHEREAS, every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born in the United States with a birth defect.  Birth defects are a leading cause of death in the first year of life, causing one in every five infant deaths. These conditions lead to $2.6 billion per year in hospital costs alone in the United States.  In Michigan, birth defects account for about 220 infant deaths every year; and,

WHEREAS, birth defects are common, costly, and critical.  While many unknown factors play a role in birth defects, steps can be taken to help prevent or limit certain risks, such as exposure to chemicals in the home or at work, use of alcohol and street drugs, a lack of folic acid in a woman’s diet, lack of prenatal care, and infections during pregnancy; and,

WHEREAS, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, contributing to late entry into prenatal care and presenting a barrier to optimal pregnancy management, particularly during the crucial first weeks of a baby’s development; and,

WHEREAS, early identification of a child with a birth defect coupled with early intervention services typically improves the child’s quality of life and may even save his or her life; and,

WHEREAS, taking steps to avoid infections during pregnancy can reduce the chance that a child is born with a birth defect. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network and CDC encourage parents-to-be to reduce the chance of developing an infection during pregnancy by observing the following guidelines: properly prepare food, talk to your healthcare provider, protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases, and maintain good hygiene; and,

WHEREAS, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services joins with the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, as well as many dedicated volunteers, healthcare professionals, and parent groups in promoting this important cause;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim January 2017 as Birth Defects Awareness Month in Michigan.