The need for education on the prevention of birth defects is greater than most people realize.

Approximately 1,300 babies will be diagnosed with a birth defect this year in Arkansas. This is close to the national average, but the death rate from birth defects in Arkansas is above average.

Each year, more than 100 babies will die because of birth defects in Arkansas. According to data from the March of Dimes, between 2010-2013, the infant mortality rate due to neural tube defects (NTDs) was 11.2 per 10,000 births. This rate is 2.3 higher than the national average during the same time span.

There are many causes of birth defects, and unfortunately, the cause is hard to determine most of the time. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower the risk of some birth defects.

The risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida, anencephaly, cleft lip and cleft palate, and congenital heart disease can be lowered by taking folic acid before and during pregnancy.

The CDC recommends for women trying to get pregnant to take 400mcg of folic acid per day for the purpose of reducing NTDs. You should begin taking the supplement at least one month before getting pregnant to gain the full effect of the B-9 vitamin. Due to the fact that 70% of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unplanned, we suggest all women of childbearing age begin taking folic acid now.

Do your part to help reduce the rate of birth defects in Arkansas by adding folic acid to your daily regimen. For more tips on lowering the risk of birth defects, visit the CDC’s website.