The March of Dimes today joins more than 75 organizations worldwide in observing the third annual World Birth Defects Day. The March of Dimes was one of founding organizations that launched this day in 2015 to raise awareness of this serious global problem of birth defects and urge more research, prevention, and care to give every baby a healthy start in life.
Join the conversation on March 3 on Twitter using hashtag #WorldBDDay.
An estimated 8 million babies around the world are born with a serious birth each year. Birth defects are a leading cause of death in the first year of life, and babies who survive may be physically or mentally disabled, taking a costly toll on their families, communities and nations.
Last year, the March of Dimes funded about $5 million in research related to birth defects. March of Dimes grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including Fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects. Most recently, a new genetic variant of muscular dystrophy was identified by a team funded in part by the March of Dimes. These discoveries have paved the way for new treatments and preventions for these conditions.
The March of Dimes also supports programs for prevention of birth defects and premature birth in Lebanon, Malawi and the Philippines.
The bi-annual International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD) is organized by the March of Dimes in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 8th ICBD will be held in Bogota, Colombia in November, 2017.
The March of Dimes also provides educational resources to help women be as healthy as possible during pregnancy and reduce the risk of birth defects. Top tips for a healthy baby:
- Start taking a daily multivitamin containing the B vitamin folic acid, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
- Be up-to-date with your vaccinations (shots). Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations you should receive before or during pregnancy, including the flu shot and Tdap booster.
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, raw or runny eggs, unpasteurized (raw) juice or dairy products, raw sprouts -- or products made with them, and handle foods safely.
- Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before preparing or eating foods; after being around or touching pets and other animals; and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.
- Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus, including mosquitos. This includes avoiding travel to areas where the virus is circulating. Find out more at ZAPzika.org or nacersano.org/zika.
- Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles during pregnancy.
- Let someone else clean the cat litter boxes!
The March of Dimes is a member of the PUSH! Gobal Alliance and works with the International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research. For more information about World Birth Defects Day, go to icbdsr.org.