Healthy Communities, Healthy Babies is focus of prevention month 

LANSING, Mich.: Nearly 13,000 children in Michigan are diagnosed annually with a birth defect within one year of birth. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is joining with leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network this month to increase awareness of five critical tips that help reduce the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.

Birth defects are structural changes that can affect almost any part of the body, such as the heart, brain or foot, and can cause lifelong health challenges. Annually, the National Birth Defects Prevention Network raises awareness of birth defects and promotes strategies that help reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications. The National Birth Defects Prevention Month campaign theme this year is “Healthy Communities, Healthy Babies.”

“As medical care and treatment have improved, babies and children with birth defects are living longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. “Although not all birth defects can be prevented, pregnant people and prospective parents are encouraged to make healthy choices and adopt healthier habits to help lower their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect.”

Follow these five tips to increase your chances of having a healthy baby:

  1. Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day at least one month prior to conception.
  2. Plan a visit with your health care provider to support a healthy pregnancy.
  3. Reduce risk of infections.
    • Become up to date on all vaccines before becoming pregnant. If you are pregnant, the CDC recommends the following vaccines: fluTdap and COVID-19.
  4. Care for your body and mind before and during pregnancy to set up you and your baby for success.
  5. Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

The MDHHS Birth Defects Education and Outreach program encourages Michiganders to be active participants in National Birth Defects Prevention Month by sharing these tips for healthy communities and healthy babies.

For more information, visit National Birth Defects Awareness Month – National Birth Defects Prevention Network (