JANUARY 2017 is Birth Defects Prevention Month

Prevent to Protect: Preventing Infections for Baby's Protection

The theme for 2017 is Prevent to Protect: Preventing Infections for Baby's Protection. Some infections before and during pregnancy can hurt you and your baby. They can cause serious illness, birth defects, and lifelong disabilities, such as hearing loss or learning problems. Here are some examples of how you can reduce your risk of getting infection during pregnancy to help protect your baby.

Michigan Birth Defects Proclamation

Press Release

National Birth Defects Prevention Month 2017 Toolkit

MI healthy baby

Properly Prepare Foods

Pregnant women and their babies are at increased risk of contracting the bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness. Foodborne illness during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby, including prematurity and stillbirth. Some foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, can infect your baby even if you do not have symptoms of foodborne illness. Make safe food handling a priority for you and your baby while pregnant.

What can you do to Properly Prepare Foods:

  • Washing your hands before and after preparing foods.
  • Do not eat raw or running eggs or raw sprouts.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese and other foods made from them.
  • Clean, separate, cook, and chill food.
Two women

Talk to your healthcare provider

Whether you are planning to become pregnant or not, talk to your healthcare provider about reproductive and preconception health care. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to prevent infections, including sexually transmitted diseases (referred to as STIs or STDs), before and during pregnancy, make sure that you are up-to-date with vaccinations (shots) before getting pregnant, and talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations that you should receive during pregnancy.

Consider discussing these topics with your healthcare provider to reduce your risk of getting an infection during pregnancy:

  • Influenza (Flu) Shot
  • Foodborne Illness
  • Travel
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Get tested for UTIs, which are infections of the kidney, bladder, or urinary tract. Pregnant women should have their urine tested as a part of routine pregnancy care.
  • Group B streptococcus (GBS)
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Shot

Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases

Pregnant women have to be careful about how they handle and care for animals. Pets can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause several infections that can harm you and your baby, including toxoplasmosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), and salmonellosis.

Pregnant women should also take steps to reduce their risk of being bitten by a mosquito. Mosquitos can carry several infections, including West Nile virus, Dengue virus, malaria, and Zika virus. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, a sign of incomplete brain development.

What you can do to protect yourself from animals and insects:

  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles, and do not clean cat litter boxes while pregnant.
  • When mosquitoes and ticks are active wear long sleeves and long pants outside and use EPA registered insects repellants. MI healthy baby

Maintain good hygiene

Hygiene refers to the activities that help prevent the spread of infections. Personal hygiene can include hand washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth. Maintaining good hygiene is one of the simplest steps that women can take to prevent infections. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not maintaining good hygiene, including salmonellosis, norovirus, adenovirus, and hand, foot, and mouth disease.

What you can do to maintain good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Kiss young children on the forehead or cheek instead of the lips and do not put a young child’s food, utensils, drinking cups, or pacifiers in your mouth.

Substance Use During Pregnancy

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable. Play it smart! Alcohol and pregnancy don't mix.

Narcotics - Prescription and Illicit

healthy baby

“When mothers use illicit or prescription drugs during the pregnancy, infants can present with drug withdrawal symptoms after birth, called neonatal withdrawal syndrome (NWS). The risk for NWS is greatest when the mother uses prescription pain relievers known as opioids analgesics or heroin during the pregnancy." Neonatal Drug Withdrawal among Michigan Infants.

Resources for Recovery

More Prevention Resourceshealthy baby

Resources are available through the Michigan Birth Defects Prevention Program and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN). Please share these resources to help reach millions of women and decrease their risk for birth defects. (Resources in English, Spanish and Arabic.)

Michigan Birth Defects Prevention Program

Health & Nutrition Information for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women - Great for tracking healthy habits!

Michigan Birth Defects Prevention Month Archive

Past NBDPN Resources