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For Release: January 20, 2009
Contact: Office of Communications
Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

National Birth Defects Prevention Network says “Get Fit for Pregnancy”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network to share the message that a mother’s health before pregnancy is an important foundation to having a healthy baby who grows into a healthy child. “Getting Fit for Pregnancy” is the theme of National Birth Defects Prevention Month in January 2009.

Good health habits before pregnancy include taking a multivitamin with 400 mcg. of folic acid everyday, along with eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly to maintain an ideal weight. Other things women can do before pregnancy to increase their chances of having a healthy baby include knowing family history and genetic risks, visiting a health care provider to discuss medications and health problems (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and seizure disorder), and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

“We are excited to be a part of this national awareness campaign to help women improve their health before pregnancy,” says Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry Coordinator Kay Pearson. “Most women are aware that being overweight increases the chance for diabetes and heart disease as they age, but they may not realize that being overweight can increase the risk for poor pregnancy outcomes. Moms who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience hypertension, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia – conditions that add to the chance of having a premature baby. But that’s not all. Studies have shown that mothers who are obese are at increased risk of their babies being born with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spine. Helping women to get fit before pregnancy will not only improve their health, but also their baby’s health,” said Pearson.

“We would like to encourage women to start the new year by including 30 minutes of physical activity every day, eating a diet low in fats, with at least five or more serving of fruits and vegetables daily,” said Pearson. “When moms are healthy, the whole family is healthy.”

For more information about things you can do to “Get Fit for Pregnancy”, contact OSDH Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry Coordinator Kay Pearson at (405) 271-6617 or kayp@health.ok.gov.

 

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