Health Tip: Help Prevent Birth Defects
While the cause of many birth defects remains a mystery, doctors do understand what causes many others -- and how to prevent them.
The Minnesota Department of Health says before and during pregnancy, you should:
- Eat foods with a high folate content, or foods enriched with folic acid. A folic acid deficiency can lead to a type of birth defect called a neural tube defect. To prevent this, good dietary choices are green leafy veggies, dried beans, oranges and orange juice, and fortified breads, pastas and cereals.
- Before pregnancy and while you're pregnant, take a daily multivitamin that includes at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.
- See your doctor for a checkup before you are pregnant, and get regular pre-natal care throughout your pregnancy.
- Stop drinking alcohol while you're trying to conceive, and never drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Make sure the medicines you take are safe during pregnancy. Check with your doctor.
Health Tip: High Blood Pressure While You're Pregnant
High blood pressure during pregnancy may develop into a dangerous condition called preeclampsia -- putting both mom and baby at risk.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers these suggestions to help make your pregnancy safer:
- Before you become pregnant, work with your doctor to get your blood pressure within a normal range.
- Help manage high blood pressure with a healthy diet, regular exercise and weight loss.
- Always take your blood pressure medicines as your doctor prescribes.
- Talk to your doctor about taking high blood pressure medication during pregnancy.
- Once you are pregnant, visit your doctor regularly to closely monitor your blood pressure, both at the doctor's office and at home.
- Talk to your doctor about kidney disease or any other health conditions that may impact your blood pressure.
- If you develop symptoms of preeclampsia -- including headaches, rapid weight gain, visual problems or swelling of the hands or face -- contact your doctor immediately.