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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2007
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month

If you are planning to become pregnant, you may be unaware of what you can do to help prevent your baby from having a birth defect.

Birth defects affect about one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. They are the leading cause of infant deaths. Babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long-term disability than babies without birth defects. About 1,800 babies are born each year in Oklahoma with birth defects.

Most birth defects happen within the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant should see their health care provider before they stop their current method of birth control, so they can be evaluated for any risk factors that might affect the baby and assure that if they become pregnant, they will be as healthy as possible.

January has been designated as Birth Defects Prevention Month to highlight the public health importance of preventing birth defects, said _____, administrative director of the _____ County Health Department. “There are steps that women can take to decrease their chance of having a baby born with a birth defect,” _____ said, offering the following recommendations:

  • All women of childbearing age should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms (400 mcg or 0.4 mg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid consumptionreduces the risk of having a baby with spina bifida, anencephaly, and possibly other birth defects including cleft lip or palate and heart defects.
  • All women should be appropriately immunized. This especially applies to women born outside the United States who have not received rubella immunizations. Exposure to rubella in the first trimester of pregnancy can result in congenital rubella syndrome, which can cause serious heart, hearing and vision defects.
  • Women who wish to become pregnant should be aware of their family health history, including any known genetic risks.
  • Women should not smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before and during pregnancy.

_____ noted one birth defect that is 100 percent preventable is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. “FAS can occur when a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. A child born with FAS will have a set of physical and mental birth defects that are irreversible and lifelong. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. Women should not drink alcohol when they are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or at risk of becoming pregnant,” _____ emphasized.

For more information about birth defects prevention, contact _


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