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9 Ways to Help Prevent Birth Defects

April 17th, 2015

doctor and patient looking at sonogram The possibility your child could be born with a birth defect will always exist. You can, however, take precautions to increase your odds of having a healthy baby. By eating certain vitamins and avoiding harmful substances, if women tweak their daily routines in just a few ways, it just might save their child from a devastating diagnosis.

Most birth defects develop very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman knows she is pregnant. There are even measures women can take before pregnancy that can help prepare for a healthy birth.

Expecting mothers and anyone thinking about having a child should read over the following guidelines on how to prevent birth defects from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s suggestions will help you live a healthier life regardless of whether you’re pregnant, and could keep a birth defect from affecting your baby. Read the rest of this entry »

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Folic Acid Drops Birth Defect Risk By 35%

March 4th, 2015

News about the benefits of folic acid have been confirmed by medical journals and clinical studies for years, but just how much does it help with a baby’s development? Earlier this month, USA Today reported that there has been a 35 percent decrease in the number of babies born with spina bifida due to the fortification of grains with folic acid. Flour has been fortified with B vitamins since the late ’90s, but recent reports reinforce its significance.

Pregnant mother and child eat healthy foodFolic acid is essential as part of baby’s growth in the early stages of pregnancy. Women who do not receive enough of the vitamin have an increased risk of having a baby born with neural tube defects. It has long been recommended that a woman include it in her diet if she is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Read the rest of this entry »

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CHD Awareness Week: Shedding Light on the Country’s Most Common Birth Defect

February 18th, 2015

This past week, you would have been hard-pressed to go anywhere without seeing heart decorations or heart-shaped candies celebrating Valentine’s Day. Hearts, however, were also the focus of a recent nationwide effort to draw attention to the most common birth defect in the country: congenital heart defects.

SONY DSCCongenital Heart Defect Awareness Week ran from Feb. 7 to Feb. 14. CHD affects tens of thousands of babies each year and varies in severity. It can be minor. It can be deadly. In any case, CHD can put onerous physical, emotional and financial strains on anyone who is diagnosed with CHD and their families.

Let’s take some time here to review what CHD Awareness Week covered, and let’s talk about about some basic facts surrounding CHD you may not be aware of: Who does it affect? Why does it occur? What’s being done to treat it? Read the rest of this entry »

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How the Oil Industry Is Affecting Birth Development

January 5th, 2015

pregnant A recent article in U.S. News & World Report takes a look at the world of hydrofracking and how it might be affecting pregnant women and their babies. Fracking, the term commonly used for hydraulic fracturing, is a process used in the oil and gas development industry. A study has linked it to potential dangers in women during pregnancy, including:

  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Impaired fetal development
  • Low birth weight

Fracking uses large amounts of water, sand and chemicals to crack open oil and gas deposits, which are then brought to the surface. However, the potential exposure to toxic chemicals and radioactive materials involved with fracking has raised alarm about the risk of certain birth defects and chronic conditions in children. Read the rest of this entry »

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Folic Acid Awareness Week Focuses on Importance of Women’s Health Issues

January 5th, 2015

pregnant lady healthy foodNational Folic Acid Awareness Week occurs the second week of January, a month dedicated to birth defect prevention. The week is focused on raising awareness about the value of folic acid for pregnant women. It also brings attention to the importance of a woman’s overall health and wellness during pregnancy, in addition to becoming more educated about the risk of birth defects.

According to the National Council on Folic Acid, Hispanic babies are nearly twice as likely to be born with neural tube defects compared to other babies born in the U.S. Reports show that Hispanic women consume the least amount of folic acid of any racial or ethnic group — likely due to the nutritional differences in cuisine.

An estimated 1 in 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year. It is important for all women to be given updated information and made aware about all benefits of taking folic acid during pregnancy.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Studies Raises Questions About Alcohol Consumption Early in Pregnancy

December 4th, 2014

pregnancy drinkingIt has always been a given that women should refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. But many women often unknowingly consume alcohol before realizing they are pregnant. A recent report from Yale University reveals that this consumption of low to moderate alcohol is not linked to an increased risk of specific birth conditions and growth deficiencies commonly associated with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Researchers investigated the effects of low levels of alcohol — one drink per week, on average — in over 4,000 women and infants. They examined neonatal results, including rates of:

  • Jaundice
  • Congenital malformations
  • Admission to a neonatal intensive care unit

The study showed that the 30% of women who drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol early on in their pregnancy had a reduced likelihood of low birth weight, small head circumference and short birth length.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Hypospadias Now as Common as Cleft Palate

November 19th, 2014

Reports of increasing cases of hypospadias, a birth defect in males when the urethra emerges on the shaft or base of the penis rather than the tip, were prevalent from 1960 to 1980, with trends dropping early into the 1990s. However, more recent statistics reveal that it is a birth defect still an issue today, affecting approximately every 1 in 300 men worldwide.

babyA recent article from the Daily Mail claims that the number of males suffering from this condition has doubled in a generation, making it as common a birth defect as cleft palate. An estimated 1,500 operations are scheduled each year in an effort to correct the problem, which can lead to its own set of complications. Read the rest of this entry »

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November is National Family Caregivers Month

November 6th, 2014

The everyday needs of a child born with a birth defect can be challenging to parents or family members caring him or her. For the month of November, these family caregivers, who improve the quality of life for millions of people, are celebrated.

cdcCAN is a non-profit organization that provides free education, resources and support to family caregivers, including those parents caring for children with special needs. In a study listed on their website, 80% of caregivers believe their role has given them more meaning in their lives, but 85% are “exhausted,” 82% “frustrated” and 70% “overwhelmed.”

The role of caregivers often means putting their loved ones’ needs over their own. This selflessness can face its share of challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the following tips to maintain the safety and health of caregivers and the ones they provide for:

  • Keep informed about special need requirements
  • Seek support from local or online groups that provide information and programs
  • Be an advocate
  • Be empowering and focus on what your child can do (rather than what they cannot)
  • Practice self-care

Celebrating a Lifetime of Care

Parents who have a child born with a brain, spinal or congenital birth defect are dedicated to a lifetime of care that exceed beyond childhood. In fact, it has been reported that 80% of long-term care is provided by family members or friends.

Woman holding flowers and reading note smilingHonoring National Family Caregivers Month is one small way to show appreciation and support for parents who are caring for a child with a birth defect or other special needs. Suggestions to lend a helping hand include:

  • Help a family caregiver at the holidays with decorations, meal preparation or addressing holiday cards
  • Take a few minutes to write a letter, or to send flowers or a card of appreciation
  • Offer tickets to a comedy show, movie or simply a few hours of time to allow the caregiver a break for themselves

Small gestures can often have big impact for caregivers — not only for the month of November, but year-round.

Find Your Support

There is support and resources available for those who are caring for the ongoing, special needs of their child. There is also legal support for parents whose children were born with a birth defect. Multiple studies have shown the link between certain medications and birth defects.

If you were taking medication during pregnancy and your child was born with a life-long defect, we may be able to help you seek compensation. We want to help give you the support you need and address the legal options available. There is no obligation and the case evaluation is free. Contact us today.

 

image credit: CDC

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Parents of Baby Diagnosed with Anencephaly Celebrate His Life

October 22nd, 2014

Jenna Gassew and Dan HaleyEarlier this year, a Pennsylvania couple found out they were expecting. In April, Jenna Gassew and Dan Haley’s baby was diagnosed in the womb with anencephaly, a rare and terminal condition. It is estimated that one in every 4,859 babies will be born with anencephaly each year in the U.S. According to the CDC, nearly all babies born with this defect die shortly after birth.

Prayers for Shane

When Gassew and Haley were initially given the news that their baby would be born with anencephaly, they decided to create a bucket list for him to visit all the places they enjoyed going as kids that he would never get to experience.

The couple started a Facebook prayer page, Prayers for Shane, before his birth to celebrate his life, attracting a half a million supporters along the way. On the day he was born, a Facebook post on the page read:

“Shane spent his entire life in the arms of people that loved him unconditionally and I don’t think you could ask for a more beautiful life [than] that…”

Read the rest of this entry »

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What Is Anencephaly?

October 8th, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in every 4,859 babies are born with anencephaly in the U.S. each year. Anencephaly falls under the category of brain and spinal birth defects. It is when a baby is born without parts of the skull or brain. This neural tube defect forms within the first month of pregnancy, typically before a woman is aware that she is pregnant.

Human PregnancyThere are screening tests women can take during pregnancy to check for anencephaly and other possible birth defects or complications. An abnormal blood or serum screening test result would identify anencephaly or it may be seen during an ultrasound.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure or effective treatment for this tragic condition. Although it develops in the earliest stages, an anencephaly diagnosis may not come until after the baby is born. Due to the severity of the condition, most babies born with anencephaly will not live long enough to leave the hospital.  Read the rest of this entry »

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