“How Can I Prevent Birth Defects?”

As a cosmetic and general dentist who strives to educate his patients on oral systemic health, Dr. James Fondriest and our team at Lake Forest Dental Arts would like to raise awareness for birth defect prevention. January is designated by the National Birth Defect Prevention Network as a month to educate the public on birth defects and prevention methods. As members of our community, we hope to educate young women and our expecting patients so that we can ultimately reduce the prevalence of defects among newborns. Below are some facts and statistics about birth defects.

  • One out of 33 babies is born with birth defects.
  • Most birth defects form early in pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking certain medications can contribute to the formation of defects.
  • The most common defects are clefting of the palate and lips, Down Syndrome, and Spina Bifida.
  • Every year, hospitalizations and medical treatment of children with defects costs families and the U.S government over $2.5 billion.
  • Amniocenteses and ultrasound diagnostic technology can often detect defects before a child is born.

Preventing Birth Defects

Many medical professionals in the United States encourage that women add folic acid to their diets. Folic acid is a form of a B vitamin and helps promote a healthy environment for DNA production and replication. Most women who take folic acid begin adding it to their diets in their late teenage years and throughout their 20s and 30s. Folic acid naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms, bananas, spinach, and asparagus.

In addition to adding folic acid into their deits, women should avoid drinking alcohol, using drugs, and smoking if they believe they might be pregnant and continue practicing abstinence throughout their pregnancy. During pregnancy, women should visit their doctor often for regular checkups and diagnostic testing. Our pregnant patients should also avoid taking antibiotics during the 2nd trimester as it can negatively affect a baby’s tooth development.

Dr. Fondriest welcomes his pregnant patients to discuss their overall health with him. Lake Forest Dental Arts encourages our community to help us raise awareness about birth defects by educating your friends and families. For further questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our North Shore dentist office at (847) 234-0517.

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