Birth defect statistics and prevention tips

As an expecting mother, you are likely feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety. While you cannot wait to bring your baby into the world, you may also worry about potential complications. Birth injuries and defects are possible, which is why awareness and prevention are vital.

Knowing the statistics about birth complications and understanding how to best prevent these from occurring will help you be prepared and have peace of mind. Read below for some helpful information on the occurrence of birth injuries in America and what you and your health care team can do to have a healthy baby. 

Birth complication statistics

According to the CDC, approximately 3% of all babies born in the U.S. have birth defects. Additionally, birth defects account for 20% of infant deaths, making them the leading cause of infant deaths. Here is a look at some of the most common defects and the number of cases per births:

  • Anencephaly (born without parts of the skull and brain) - 1 in 4,859
  • Spina bifida (major defect of the spine) - 1 in 2,858
  • Encephalocele (neural tube defect that affects the brain) - 1 in 12,235
  • Down syndrome (extra chromosome) - 1 in 691
  • Cleft lip (improper formation of the lip or mouth) - 1 in 940

While these numbers may scare you, it is important to know that you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of birth complications. 

Prevention tips

First and foremost, it is up to the hospital and doctors to ensure the pregnancy and delivery processes go as smoothly as possible. Health care providers often do not perform treatment correctly or choose the wrong treatment. Your medical team should be able to identify at-risk mothers and know what to do in case of a complicated delivery. 

You can take several steps to improve your chances of having a healthy baby. Be diligent in your prenatal care by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and monitoring your weight. 

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