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Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes leading to 120,000 babies being affected each year. Birth defects are 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.

Although not all birth defects can be prevented, steps can be taken to increase a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby. Some infections before and during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects and other health problems. Join the effort to raise awareness of birth defects by encouraging all women to prevent infections for their baby’s protection.

Here are some helpful tips for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant:

  • Get vaccinated.
    • Get the flu shot and whooping cough vaccine.
    • Become up-to-date with all vaccines before getting pregnant.
  • Prevent insect bites.
    • Use insect repellent.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
    • Consider avoiding travel to areas with Zika virus.
  • Practice good hygiene.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Avoid putting a young child’s cup or pacifier in your mouth.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
    • Ask about how you can prevent infections, such as Zika virus.
    • Discuss how to prevent sexually transmitted infections.