Birth Defects Prevention Month 2014

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical

January 2014 is National Birth Defects Prevention Month!  The theme is "Birth defects are common, costly, and critical.”  The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) is pleased to provide you with the following resource materials to promote birth defects awareness and prevention.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month involves the efforts of many organizations.  Building on our theme from last year, “Every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect,” NBDPN’s goal for 2014 is to continue to increase awareness that birth defects are “Common, Costly and Critical” and to offer actionable steps that can be taken by professionals, community groups, and the public to prevent birth defects.  Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant mortality.  Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.  Medical care and support services only scrape the surface of the financial and emotional impact of living with birth defects. 
Awareness efforts offer hope for reducing the number of birth defects in the future.  The following prevention strategies can be promoted. Please encourage all pregnant women and those who may become pregnant to:

  • Consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
  • Manage chronic maternal illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders, or phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs
  • See a health care provider regularly
  • Avoid toxic substances at work or at home
  • Ensure protection against domestic violence
  • Know their family history and seek reproductive genetic counseling, if appropriate

Please take the time to become familiar with the materials and complete the Evaluation Form (  We hope you find them useful for the education, outreach, and prevention activities that you conduct in your community.  Materials developed by NBDPN are available on the NBDPN website and can be tailored to your specific agency's mission, needs, and capacity.  Materials from the other organizations featured can be obtained directly from the organizations themselves.
If you should have questions about Birth Defects Prevention Month, please contact Mary Knapp ( or Cara Mai (  We hope you find these materials helpful in providing information about birth defects to families, colleagues, and policy makers. Thank you in advance for your support in promoting January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month.
Mary Knapp and LaShunda Williams 
NBDPN Education & Outreach Committee Co-chairs