Prevent Infections for Baby's Protection; January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Modified: January 20, 2017 3:06pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein 

Date: January 20, 2017             

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

ERIE COUNTY, NY— “Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection” is the theme of January 2017’s National Birth Defects Prevention Month with the goal to increase awareness on how some birth defects are caused by infection during pregnancy. Birth defects are common, costly, and critical, and they affect one in 33 U.S. babies annually (1).infographic

“Not all birth defects can be prevented, but women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by reducing their risk for getting an infection during pregnancy,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein. “Women can reduce their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by making healthy choices and adopting healthy habits before and during pregnancy. For example, women should not use cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs, especially during pregnancy and post-partum periods.” 

Women can take the following steps to prevent infections:

  • talk to their health care provider about how they can reduce their risk for infections with viruses such as Zika and congenital syphilis, if they are pregnant or currently planning a pregnancy
  • properly prepare food to avoid illnesses, such as listeriosis
  • protect themselves from insects and animals known to carry diseases, such as Zika and toxoplasmosis
  • maintain good hygiene to prevent infections, such as cytomegalovirus 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) encourages everyone to join this nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects, their causes, and their impact. In addition, the CDC urges all women who can become pregnant to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to help reduce the risk for serious birth defects of the brain and spine (spina bifida and other neural tube defects).  “Folic Acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development,” said Burstein.  “Folic acid can be found in fortified or enriched foods, such as cereals, and supplements and should be used in conjunction with a diet rich in folate.”infographic


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For More Information:

CDC-National Birth Defects Prevention Month

CDC-Folic Acid

Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention

CDC: Ten Things You Need to Know about Birth Defects

March of Dimes


  1. CDC. Update on overall prevalence of major birth defects—Atlanta, Georgia, 1978–2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2008;57:1–5. PubMed



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