Sagadahoc County Recognizes National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week | Arts & Culture

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Sagadahoc County Recognizes National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week
Sagadahoc County Recognizes National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week

Sagadahoc County Recognizes Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Major birth defects are conditions that cause structural changes in one or more parts of the body; are present at birth; and have a serious, adverse effect on heath, development, or functional ability.“ Approximately one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect.

This year, National Birth Defects Prevention Month focuses on one of the most common types of birth defects, congenital heart defects. Each year, nearly 40,000 infants in the United States are born with heart defects, which are the leading cause of death during the first year of life. As medical care and treatment have improved, those with congenital hearth defects are living longer lives.

January 8-14 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week.

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But a woman can increase her own chances of having a healthy baby. Many birth defect happenvery early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even know she is pregnant.One of the actions a woman can take to get ready for a healthy pregnancy is to take a vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

Melissa Streeter, MD, board certified OB/GYN doctor at Mid Coast Hospital agrees, “There have been incredible advances in medicine that allow us to screen for and treat many birth defects. But even better is true prevention. We now know that the risk for most defects involving the spinal column (“neural tube defects”), such as spina bifida and anencephaly, can be reduced by consuming folic acid daily before and during early pregnancy.”

More detailed information about folic acid is available at

According to the U.S. Centers for Diseaes Control andPrevention, additional steps that a woman can take to prepare for a healthy pregnancy include:

 *   Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.
 *   Keep hands clean by washing them often with soap and water to prevent infections.
 *   See a health care professional regularly.
 *   Talk with the health care professional about any medical problems and medicine use (both prescription and over-the-counter).
 *   Ask about avoiding any substances at work or at home that might be harmful to a developing baby.
 *   Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
 *   Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it.
 *   Avoid eating raw or under cooked meat.

Whilepregnant, keep up these healthy habits, get early prenatal care, and go to every appointment. For more information about preventing birth defects, visit:

Marla Davis, RN, Director or Community Health Improvement and Mid Coast Hospital, and past Chair of the Sagadahoc County Board of Health stated, "National Folic Acid Awareness Week underscores the importance of this simple and effective public health measure."

At the Board of Health’s January 6 meeting in Bath they officially proclaimed January as Birth Defects Prevention Month in the county.

The Sagadahoc County Board of Health is an official advisory board to the County Commissioners.  The Board of Health advises the County Commissioners on public policies and programs needed to assure the essential services of public health and to perform the functions which only government can provide.  We envision a caring and compassionate community where all members are encouraged and supported to lead healthy and happy lives. Our inclusive community assures economic security, a safe environment, and healthy choices for all. All members of our community haveaccess to quality, affordable, mental, oral, and physical health care that focuses on prevention.