January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month

Birth defects are structural changes that affect one or more parts of the body (e.g. heart, brain, foot). They develop most often during the first three months of pregnancy, when a baby’s organs are forming and can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops and functions. About 1 in 33 babies in the U.S. is born with a birth defect each year, according to the CDC.  Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate and spina bifida.

Your genetics, behaviors and social and environmental factors can impact the risk for birth defects, and not all birth defects can be prevented. However, there are things you can do to increase your chance of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy and baby – and National Birth Defects Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn about them. Understanding birth defects across the lifespan can help those affected by birth defects have the information they need to seek proper care.

Here are some actions you can take to learn more. 

Learn more from the CDC by visiting their website here.

Last reviewed: December, 2021