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Congratulations, you’re pregnant! It can be exciting, but also stressful. Peace of mind comes from knowing that you are doing everything you can to ensure your baby’s health during pregnancy.

Preventing Problems

Premature birth: Vital growth and development take place throughout pregnancy, right through the last months and weeks. Babies born more than three weeks before their due date are at greater risk for serious disability or death. Find out the signs and how you can prevent premature birth.

Folic Acid: Folic acids are a B vitamin that can prevent major congenital disorders. Each day, take 400 mg (mcg), of folic acid before and after pregnancy.

To quit smoking: It is best to stop before you become pregnant. However, quitting during pregnancy can give your baby a better start. Find out more about the dangers and how to quit smoking.

Alcohol: A baby can be exposed at the same level as its mother to alcohol during pregnancy. It is not known if alcohol consumption during pregnancy is safe.

Marijuana usage during pregnancy can cause harm to your baby’s health. Your baby can be affected by the chemicals found in marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Vaccinations: Did your mom give you immunity to disease (protection) during pregnancy? This immunity is good for protecting a baby against certain diseases in the first few months, but it decreases as time passes.

Infections: Sometimes you won’t feel sick and you don’t know if your body has an infection. How to prevent infection that could cause harm to your baby’s development

HIV: Get a HIV test if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. Encourage your partner to do the same. There are many things you can do to prevent your baby from getting HIV if you have HIV.

West Nile Virus: Reduce your chances of getting infected by this virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Diabetes: A poor control of diabetes during pregnancy can increase the risk for congenital problems and other issues for your baby. You can also be affected by it.

High blood pressure: Pregnancy problems can be made more difficult by high blood pressure.

Medications: Taking certain medications during pregnancy might cause serious congenital disabilities for your baby. Discuss any medication you take with your pharmacist or doctor. These medications include prescription and over-the counter drugs, as well as dietary and herbal supplements.

Depression: Depression can be treated. You should seek immediate treatment from your doctor if you suspect you may have depression.

Environmental Exposures

  • The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unitsexternal icon is a direct link with medical and health professionals. The PEHSU network includes experts in pediatrics and occupational and environmental medicine as well as nursing and other specialties. To answer your questions, there are specialists in each region.
  • If you are concerned about toxic exposures, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has many factsheets about toxic substances (e.g. lead, benzene).

Environment and workplace exposures: There are a few things that can adversely affect your baby’s health. Find out how to avoid certain workplace hazards.

Radiation Exposure in Developing Babies: Discuss with your doctor if radiation exposure is suspected.

Weight Gain during Pregnancy: Find out about weight gain tips and the steps you can take in order to reach your pregnancy weight goal.

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Genetics and Family History

Genetics Understanding genetic factors and disorders is crucial for preventing birth defects and other special conditions in children.

  • Family History: Families share their genes, their environment, their lifestyles, their habits, and more. Your family history can help you identify potential disease risks for your baby.
  • Genetic Counselor: If you have a history of a genetic condition, or have experienced miscarriages or infant death, your doctor may suggest you consult a genetic counselor. Start of Page

Other Concerns

Bleeding or Clotting Disorders: A bleeding disorder can lead to miscarriage and other serious complications during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder or clotting disorder.

Safety Tips for New Parents and Expecting Parents : Get ready to be prepared for any disaster. Learn what to do in the event of one.

Talk to your doctor before you travel. Travel might cause problems during pregnancy. Find out the quality of medical care in your destination and while you are traveling.

Violence and Pregnancy. Violence can cause injury or death to women at any stage of their lives, even during pregnancy. Find out more about violence against women and where you can get help. Start of Page

Things to Consider Before Your Baby Arrives

Breastfeeding is a great option for both you and your baby. Breast milk is easy for babies to digest, and contains antibodies that can protect them from viral and bacterial infections.

Jaundice, Kernicterus: Anyone can get jaundice. Brain damage can result from severe jaundice that isn’t treated. You should have your baby checked in the hospital for jaundice. Repeat the process within 48 hours. Call your doctor immediately if you suspect your baby may have jaundice.

Newborn Screening: A sample of blood is taken from the “heel stick” and tested for any treatable diseases within 48 hours. These disorders are detected in more than 98% percent of American children.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). : Find out what parents and caregivers could do to help their babies sleep well and reduce the chance of SIDS.

Child safety seats: Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in America. Many of these deaths can be avoided. By always buckling your child in the correct size and age-appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, you can reduce serious and fatal injuries by as much as 80 span

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