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Every day babies are born with birth defects that could have been avoided. Everything that an expectant mother does during the course of a pregnancy can have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of a child’s life. While it may seem like common sense to avoid drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, thousands of women make the choice to put the future of their baby at risk. It is for that reason that efforts to prevent birth defects continue in this country and abroad.

January is the National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asks that everyone do their part to raise awareness about birth defects. Both their causes, and their potential impact. On top of educating women and their families about how to ensure that they have healthy babies, the CDC would also like to recognize the millions of people living with birth defects. The organization points out that people living with birth defects, despite medical advances leading to longer life spans, still need various support items to improve quality of life, including:

  • Specialized Treatment
  • Continued Care
  • Strong Social Support

For decades, health experts have warned expecting mothers about the potential risks that alcohol poses. Fetuses exposed alcohol are exponentially more likely to have birth defects, both mental and physical deficits, that will require continued care to improve quality of life. Such birth defects fall under the classification of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). These days, in the wake of the opioid addiction epidemic, more and more babies are being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The condition results from opioid-dependent fetuses being cut off from their supply at the time of birth, leading to acute withdrawal symptoms. The long-term effects of which, are not yet well understood.

So, what can you do to help raise awareness?

  1. Join the #Prevent2Protect Thunderclap to raise awareness of National Birth Defects Prevention Month.
  2. Share your story! Create an original picture or a video about your story and post on social media tagged with #1in33.
  3. Create an original picture or a video and post on social media tagged with #Prevent2Protect

It is important to remember that it isn’t just alcohol and opioids that can affect your baby. Any mind-altering substance can significantly affect the development of a child. At Hope by The Sea, we hope that you will take part in this important campaign.