1/700 babies are born with Down Syndrome in the United States.²

March 21st was World Down Syndrome Day; a special day marked to bring awareness to the joys and unique challenges of raising a child with Down Syndrome. The date of the 21st is chosen because the genetic disorder is characterized by an extra copy of chromosome 21; also called Trisomy 21.

3% of infants in the U.S. are born with birth defects.¹ If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant or just found out that you’re pregnant, you may also be thinking about birth defects. January is Birth Defects Awareness Month so it’s a good time to discuss the basics and learn how they occur. Knowing the risk factors can help reduce your baby’s risk of developing a birth defect in the womb.

High blood sugar around the time of conception and throughout pregnancy increases risks of:  birth defects, still birth, preterm birth, c-sections, and the baby developing obesity and diabetes later in life.¹

What is Gestational Diabetes?

November is American Diabetes Month and a great time to put a spotlight on diabetes during pregnancy, which is a rising trend in the United States. In the United States, gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy) has increased by 56% from 2000-2010.¹

Around the world, 1 out of 700 babies are born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate.² July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, a time to bring focus on the special challenges and treatment of babies born with orofacial malformations like cleft lip or palate. Around the world, 1 out of 700 babies are born with cleft.²

Birth defects affect babies all over the world.   A birth defect is a structural change to a baby’s body part, inside or outside the body. 

What Causes Birth Defects?

Birth defects happen as a result of: genetics, infection, exposure to an environmental toxin like radiation, or exposure to an internal toxin, like drugs, medication, alcohol, or smoking. They can also happen as a result of poor diet (low in folic acid) or uncontrolled blood sugar (Diabetes diagnosis or chronic high blood sugar).  

Every woman carries the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. This is called a background risk. The background risk for every woman is 3-5%. Yet, every woman can be proactive in reducing additional risk to her baby.