MDCH Observes January As National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

January 12, 2006

The Michigan Department of Community Health has joined the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) this month to alert Michigan women and their families about the urgent need for good health before pregnancy to protect a baby’s growth and development during pregnancy and after birth. This year’s theme for National Birth Defects Prevention Month is “Good Health Habits for a Lifetime.”

“There is an urgent need in Michigan to promote preconceptional health,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Prevention efforts offer hope for reducing the impact of birth defects on Michigan families.”

More than 10,000 Michigan babies are born with a birth defect each year. While some birth defects are minor, the financial and emotional costs of birth defects can be devastating for Michigan families.

“Every woman can take steps now to improve her own general health and at the same time lower the chance of birth defects,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), working with health care providers around the country, encourages good preconceptional health for the more than 60 million women in the U.S. who are of childbearing age.

“Women might not think of birth defects as preventable,” Wisdom said. “Yet up to 70 percent of neural tube defects -- defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida – can be prevented if women take folic acid daily before pregnancy and early in pregnancy.”

In addition to taking a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid every day, Wisdom urges women to avoid tobacco, alcohol and street drugs and to learn about their family health history. She also encourages women to have a medical check up and follow medical advice to control diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions and to discuss the safety of medications and supplements with a health care provider.

For more information, please call the Birth Defects Program toll free at 1-866-852-1247, e-mail BDRFollowup@michigan.gov or visit www.migeneticsconnection.org.