January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth Defect Prevention Awareness

Each year, the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) starts the New Year off by naming January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month, according to the NBDPN website. The Education and Outreach Committees at the NBDPN create awareness materials for state officials and develop a theme that can help healthcare professionals, expecting parents, and other relevant parties to better understand the ways in which numerous birth defects are preventable.

For 2016, the theme surrounding the NBDPN’s awareness campaign is “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects—Make a PACT for Prevention.” In other words, pregnant women should think carefully about their own health and medical choices to help prevent a potentially deadly birth defect. Each year, the NBDPN emphasizes that birth defects are “common, costly and critical,” but that many birth defects can be avoided. The organization partners with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Teratology Society (TS) to help get the word out about birth defects prevention.

Who can help with this campaign? The NBDPN calls on “professionals, community groups, and the public to prevent birth defects.” In addition, the organization reaches out to healthcare providers to underscore the high rate of birth defects in our country and the ways that awareness and education may lower the number of babies that are born with debilitating birth defects.

Learning More About Birth Defects: Getting the Facts and Figures

What do you need to know about birth defects? Some important facts and figures include the rates at which infants are born with birth defects, the severity of those defects, and the economic costs associated with them. The NBDPN cites the following data in a letter to healthcare providers:

  • Birth defects are so common that, statistically, one baby is born with a birth defect every 4.5 minutes. If we look at this figure in terms of annual birth defects, it means that one out of every 33 infants (or, about 3%) is born with a birth defect in America alone.
  • Many birth defects result in serious health consequences. Around 20% of infant deaths result from birth defects each year, while anywhere from 6% to 15% of deaths in kids up to the age of 14 result from birth defects. For babies born with birth defects who do survive childhood, many live with increased risks for physical and cognitive challenges, as well as social ones.
  • Birth defects also have high economic costs. Given that many infants born with birth defects require extensive medical attention and hospitalization, birth defects end up costing more than $2.6 billion every year in the U.S.

An additional fact sheet from the NBDPN emphasizes that birth defects often are preventable because they can result from some of the following:

  • Taking certain dangerous drugs (including certain prescription medications);
  • Exposure to certain chemicals; and
  • Exposure to other health hazards.

If your baby was born with a birth injuries, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation. Contact an experienced birth injury lawyer to determine your rights.

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