January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Courtesy: MGN Online

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is working to educate the public about the importance of preventing infections before and during pregnancy to protect infants from birth defects.

Public awareness, expert medical care, accurate and early diagnosis, and social support systems are all needed for prevention and treatment of these common and sometimes deadly conditions.

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According to DPH, nearly 5,000 babies delivered each year in the Commonwealth are affected by birth defects.

Approximately, 55,000 babies are delivered annually in Kentucky.

In the United States, 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year. Not only can birth defects lead to lifelong challenges and disabilities, they are a common cause of death in the first year of life.

Every 4 minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States, said Dr. Connie Gayle White, senior deputy commissioner for DPH. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by preventing infections before and during pregnancy.

The 2017 theme, Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Babys Protection was chosen in order to bring attention to the link between infections, such as Zika virus and its related condition Microcephaly, and infant growth and development. DPH, along with the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes, and the Teratology Society, are all taking part in this years observance.

In addition to pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, DPH encourages the general public, healthcare professionals, educators, and social service professionals to support this effort to raise awareness. Its important to encourage all women to Prevent to Protect by taking the following steps:

-Use protection when dealing with animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus; and
-Maintain good hygiene.
-Talk to a healthcare provider;
-Properly prepare food.

By following these Prevent to Protect guidelines, women can reduce the risk of having a child with a birth defect and also reduce their risk of pregnancy complications such as early pregnancy loss, prematurity and stillbirths.

DPH is participating in National Birth Defects Prevention Month by distributing information to women and their health care providers across the state. Efforts throughout the year include distribution of educational materials at health fairs and presentations at state and national conferences.

Governor Matt Bevin recently signed a proclamation declaring January Birth Defects Prevention Month. The governors proclamation points out birth defects can occur in any Kentucky family regardless of race, ethnicity, health history, economic status, or level of education. A copy of the proclamation is available here.

We are excited to be part of this national campaign. Through our efforts across the country, we plan to reach millions of women and their families with vital prevention information and an opportunity to prevent birth defects. says Monica Clouse, MPH, Principal Investigator for Kentuckys Birth Surveillance Registry.

You can contact Kentuckys Birth Surveillance Registry at 502-564-4830 ext. 4394 or kbsr@ky.gov.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health encourages you to be an active participant in National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

Learn more by following National Birth Defects Prevention Network on Facebook and #Prevent2Protect on Twitter.

The complete 2017 NBDPN Birth Defects Prevention Month information packet, including this years primary message of prevention, Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Babys Protection, and other resources for the public and for professionals, is available online at: www.nbdpn.org/bdpm#2017.php.

All materials can be printed, electronically conveyed, or added to websites for distribution as needed.

Further information regarding NBDPN, as well as past National Birth Defect Prevention Month packets, can be obtained at www.NBDPN.org.

Further information on birth defects can also be found at www.CDC.gov/ncbddd.