Protecting Your Unborn Child - Preventing Infant Deaths and Birth Defects

On the heels of alarming statistics about STD rates rising in Nevada, deeper research reveals that newborns are also suffering due to mothers going untreated or not seeking wellness checks during pregnancy. While the state of Nevada is working on educating new mothers about preventing infant deaths and congenital disabilities, the health risks for newborns are still an issue.

Many influences affect the health of an unborn child. A multitude of dangers exposing newborns to illness or defects can be avoided. Prevention is crucial when it comes to protecting the life of an unborn child.

While almost everyone knows smoking and substance abuse has a negative impact upon overall health, studies show it also has a devastating effect on unborn children. To illustrate, research by Eclinical Medicine shows that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) increased 12-fold in mothers who drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes during pregnancy. The study further shows a drastic increase in birth defects and infant death when mothers smoked or consumed alcohol within the first trimester of pregnancy. Furthermore, the occurrence of stillbirth is 2-3 times higher compared to mothers who abstained from alcohol or cigarettes.

To explain, toxic chemicals in cigarettes and alcohol are absorbed through the body and transmitted through the umbilical cord, thus exposing the fetus to these toxins. The results lead to premature birth, higher risks of congenital disabilities, and increased infant mortality. For these reasons, a woman who is considering having a child or who has become pregnant is strongly urged to refrain from smoking or alcohol consumption.

Moreover, studies from Merck Pharmaceuticals show that opiates and other drugs increase the chance of birth defects in newborns. The research concludes that fetuses in the womb exposed to toxins in drugs were five times more likely to experience heart defects, stunted growth, and kidney damage. The use of marijuana during pregnancy also negatively impacts the health of a child in the uterus. It may cause premature birth, infant brain damage, and an increased risk of stillbirth.

Avoiding the introduction of harmful substances to the body while pregnant is an apparent preventive measure all mothers should take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child. However, there are other preventative actions new mothers can take to give their unborn child better odds at a defect-free future.

For example, pregnant women or women considering pregnancy should undergo a thorough pre-screening process for illness or disease. A fetus can contract certain conditions such as sexually transmitted infections, chickenpox, or human parvovirus, hence negatively impacting the health of a newborn. In addition, a study by the National Institute of Health indicates the highest occurrence of congenital disabilities or infant death is attributed to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. Consequently, the NIH and other institutions strongly encourage women to conduct an at-home STD test or clinical screenings before pregnancy and during the first trimester.

Other preventive steps for healthy childbirth include paying close attention to nutrition and fitness during pregnancy. Awareness of diet and exercise in pregnant women is increasing, but more progress is still necessary to protect unborn children. Consult your doctor to ensure you are taking in the proper nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin D, and iron which help stabilize pregnancy and assists healthy growth in fetuses. Mothers are also encouraged to maintain a healthy weight even while pregnant. Obesity before or during pregnancy can lead to complications during childbirth that can harm the health of a newborn.

Furthermore, new mothers should commit to regular wellness checks from their physician or OB-GYN. These health checks for both mother and child can make a tremendous difference in the wellbeing of a newborn. Early detection of certain conditions such as anemia, malnutrition, preeclampsia from high blood pressure, or irregular blood sugar can prevent long-term damages to the health of a newborn and its mother.

Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming new mothers have a hand in changing the future of our community. It’s a huge responsibility to bring a new life into the world, a life that could have a remarkable impact upon society. With this kind of potential in the balance, new moms should take preventative measures to ensure a child born into this world is healthy and has its best shot to live a fulfilling life.