LANSING, Mich. – Every 4 1/2 minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. While not all birth defects can be prevented, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.

In recognition of January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging healthcare professionals, educators, social service professionals, and the general public to support this effort. Further, MDHHS is joining national partners to invite women and their families to make a PACT for birth defects prevention.

This year we are encouraging all women to make a PACT for their own health and the family they may have one day. The PACT is a resolution to:

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

By making the PACT, women can reduce the risk of having a child with a birth defect as well as their risk of pregnancy complications such as early pregnancy loss, prematurity and stillbirths. Diet, life-style choices, factors in the environment, health conditions and medications before and during pregnancy all can play a role in preventing or increasing the risk of birth defects.

“Small steps, like making healthy choices, visiting a healthcare provider well before pregnancy, controlling your weight through healthy diet and activity, and taking a multivitamin every day, can go a long way,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS.

Among the 114,000 live births in Michigan each year, about 1 in every 33 is diagnosed with a birth defect. Not only can birth defects lead to lifelong challenges and disability, they are also the most common cause of death in the first year of life and the second most common cause of death in children aged one to four years. Public awareness, expert medical care, accurate and early diagnosis, and social support systems are all essential for optimal prevention and treatment of these all-too-common and sometimes deadly conditions.

MDHHS joins the National Birth Defects Prevention Network and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness on the importance of Making a PACT for Prevention. Share your own tips for healthy pregnancy using #LivingMyPACT on social media.

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