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Birth Defects

Birth is a complex and wonderful process and fortunately, the birth outcome for most women is a full-term and healthy baby. The fetus is developing along with critical organ systems during pregnancy. There are critical windows during the development when environmental exposures could damage the fetal growth and function. We know some risk factors, while others need more research. For example, we know that smoking during pregnancy slows a baby's growth while it is in the womb. In New Mexico we are tracking both birth/reproductive outcomes and birth defects.
Birth defect is a problem that happens while the baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Birth defects are a large public health problem that affects over 120,000 children in America. About 1 (one) out of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Birth defects are the leading causes of infant deaths. Babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. Babies with birth defects are also more likely to be born preterm (before the 37th week of pregnancy) than babies without birth defects.
Birth defects might be associated with a number of risk factors, such as those listed below.
  • Advanced maternal age
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Medication use and use of retinoic acid
  • Certain illnesses
  • Stress
  • Dietary or nutritional factors
  • Maternal occupations, including hairdressing, agriculture, leather or shoe manufacturing
  • Maternal exposure to chemicals, including pesticides, lead, aliphatic acids, organic solvents (such as xylene, toluene, acetone, and petroleum solvents), chlorinated solvents (used in dry cleaning), and oxygenated organic solvents (such as aliphatic alcohols, esters, ketones, and aliphatic aldehydes)
    These chemicals are found in a wide range of domestic and industrial products.
There are many things you can do to help have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Plan your pregnancy.

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

Take 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.
If 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. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but a woman can take some actions that increase her chance of having a healthy baby. Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Remember that about half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned. The NM EPHT Interactive Data Query tools allow you to query Birth Defects data and see results in tables, maps, and charts.
The NM EPHT Web site is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 5 U38EH000949 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 20 November 2017 19:34:17 from New Mexico EPHT Tracking Public Web site: https://nmtracking.org/ ".

Content updated: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 10:04:37 MST