Pediatricians can send an important message that birth defects are “common, costly and critical” with the January observance of National Birth Defects Prevention Month.
The campaign is initiated by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), which supports the theme, Make a PACT for Prevention — Plan ahead; Avoid harmful substances; Choose a healthy lifestyle; and Talk to your doctor.
Pediatricians can do their part to prevent birth defects by educating adolescents during routine care. As patients move into their child-bearing years, assuring that adolescents have an updated family health history and are current on immunizations can offer protection against some birth defects and pregnancy complications. Encouraging adolescent girls to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folate starting from the time of the first menstrual period will reduce their risk of having children with neural tube defects by more than 70%. Screening for alcohol and substance use is another way that pediatricians can have a meaningful impact.
Handouts, brochures and posters from NBDPN, the Academy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Teratology Society can be found at www.nbdpn.org/bdpm2016.php.