Saturday, January 30, 2016

All women can make a PACT to Prevent Birth Defects – start today!

The Minnesota Department of Health is joining with national partners to invite women and their families to make a PACTfor birth defects prevention in recognition of January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month – 2016.

Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. Women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. This year MDH is joining with the National Birth Defects Prevention Network and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage all women – of any age - to make a PACT for prevention, and share it using #LivingMyPACT, which stands for the following:

Plan Ahead 
Avoid Harmful Substances 
Choose a Healthy Lifestyle 
Talk to Your Health Care Provider

"It can be hard to think about preventing birth defects, especially if you aren't planning on getting pregnant any time soon, if ever. But, we know over half of pregnancies are unplanned," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "Taking folic acid, asking your doctor questions about your health, and planning for any pregnancies are great ways to improve your own health that also have the added benefit of birth defects prevention."

About 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year in the United States, with more than 2,000 cases occurring annually in Minnesota. In 2013, Birth defects in the US caused 1 in every 5 infant deaths during the first year of life. Many more children grow up with lifelong conditions and challenges. Each year in the U.S., the care of children and adults with birth defects costs more than $2.6 billion.

MDH is participating in National Birth Defects Prevention Month by partnering with local public health departments and other organizations to share education and resources. The #LivingMyPact effort hopes to reach millions of women and their families across the country. Tag MDH on Facebook or Twitter to share your #LivingMyPACT message. More information, facts, and resources to download and share can be found at Birth Defects Prevention Month or National Birth Defects Prevention Network.

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