2023 National Birth Defects Awareness Month

January 2023


We know that not all birth defects* can be prevented. We also know that you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by doing what you can to be your healthiest self both before and during pregnancy.

As part of our new awareness efforts, NBDPN would like to recognize that systemic barriers can create gaps in access to the recommended care in our prevention tips. So, we aim to reinforce these prevention tips by sparking more actions and conversations in your local communities to identify, or build, more resources for successful pregnancies!

Importantly, we would like to clarify that this theme is focused on the preparation stages of your journey into parenthood. Many of these conditions extend across the lifespan and our CDC partners highlight more  awareness on what continued success can look like for people living with birth defects.

Click above to download all 2023 resources

Click HERE to download the 2023 infographics

5 Prevention Tips for Healthy Communities and Healthy Babies

Click on the each of the 5 tips to see the actions that can be taken on by individuals and by community organizers. When done together, these recommendations complement each other to bridge some of the gaps in access to resources to create Healthy Communities for Healthy Babies.

Each infographic is linked to a short PDF containing more information for the associated tip. As you read through each tip, look for the related resources in your state/area on our Tips Resource Map below!

Folic acid is very important because when taken before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby‘s brain and spine. Our bodies use this B vitamin to make new cells.

Folate is found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Folic acid, the synthetic or man-made form of folate, is found in fortified foods (called "enriched foods"), such as breads, pastas, and cereals. Balancing all these foods to get the right amount of folic acid in your daily diet can be hard. The easiest way to get the right amount of folic acid is to supplement your diet with a multivitamin that has 400 mcg of folic acid every day.

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, visit your health care provider regularly to discuss:

Health care before pregnancy

Early and regular prenatal care

All medication and supplement use

Family medical history

Mental health

Access to resources including WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, and more!

Become up to date on all your vaccines before becoming pregnant. If you are pregnant, the CDC recommends the following vaccines: flu, Tdap, and COVID-19.

Click the image to read more on how to reduce the risk of infections that can cause birth defects like: CMV (Cytomegalovirus), the most common infectious cause of birth defects; GBS (Group B Streptococcus), a bacteria that 1 in 4 pregnant women carry; Zika, a virus that is spread by mosquitoes; Toxoplasmosis, a parasite commonly found in cat feces; Listeria, a bacteria found in contaminated food; and STIs, or sexually transmitted infections.

Depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy is common and treatable. If you think you have depression or anxiety, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible. The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline provides free help for those who are pregnant and parenting in English and Spanish.

Honoring and listening to your body by choosing nourishing foods that you enjoy and moving your body in ways that give you energy. Continuing these habits throughout pregnancy will require some adjustments at various stages, but whatever your body size or shape, work with your healthcare provider to plan for a healthy pregnancy.

Substance use (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, marijuana, e-cigarettes/vaping, etc.) and/or substance misuse can be harmful to a pregnancy and infants who are breastfeeding. The best way to keep yourself, your pregnancy, and your baby healthy is to avoid substance use. If you are already pregnant, it is not too late to get help. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting the support you need. For help, call or text the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746).

Tailor this proclamation template to your state and disseminate locally to raise awareness!

Pitch a news release to local newspapers to amplify the messages for Birth Defects Awareness!

Help Us Help Your Communities!

We hope the resources we've identified in this map are helpful, yet we remain conscious of the fact that you are more of an expert on which local resources are most helpful and accessible to you. Knowing where to go and having the right community supports is just as important as being your healthiest self. So, we need your help in finding the local community resources that you likely know more about than we do!

Reply to any of our #HealthyCommunitiesHealthyBabies social media posts to mention your local community resources and we will do our best to add them into our map! Or submit suggestions via this form.

Click on the top left icon to view the list of tagged locations. Click on the top right icon to view a larger map in a separate window.

*These resources have been developed by the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (SBDRP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), MotherToBaby (MTB), March of Dimes (MOD), and various state health departments across the country.

We utilize the term birth defects to state that a child has a medical, anatomical, and biological difference or anomaly. Children with birth defects and their families face very unique and sometimes difficult challenges. However, there are also many positive and beautiful moments parents share with their child. Depending on the condition, children living with birth defects can do what other children do. It just may look a little different or take a bit longer. Birth defect terms can feel like labels and may seem upsetting. On the other hand, using these terms can help parents and families access the right type of care, referral to services, and find other families with similar challenges.

These resources and activities are meant to assist state program staff, individual members of the public, and any and all other parties interested in joining us during National Birth Defects Awareness Month. Together, we hope to raise awareness about the impact of birth defects on our communities and to share our best tips and resources for preventing birth defects.

Looking for past content?

If you are looking for any of our previous Birth Defects Prevention Month toolkit resources, please refer to the page linked here.