Memphis nurse speaks on national birth defect prevention month

WATCH: Memphis nurse speaks on national birth defect prevention month

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Having a baby can be an exciting time for any family. While many expectant mothers hope to deliver a happy and healthy baby, the chances of a baby being born with a birth defect is pretty high.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 33 babies born in the U.S. is born with a birth defect. Molly Smith, Assistant Nurse Manager for Labor and Delivery at St. Francis Hospital, spoke to FOX13 about how expectant mothers can prevent birth defects.

Smith said the important thing for mothers to do is, “Immunizations and the regular prenatal care and taking your prenatal vitamins and folic acid.”

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Smith said the most common types of birth defects are heart defects, cleft and lip palate defects, down syndrome, and spina bifida.

“It occurs in about 3 percent of all live births,” said Smith.

She also advises that before a woman even gets pregnant, sit down with a doctor and talk everything through. Doctors are also able to provide their patients with a list of items they need to avoid or limit contact with.

Smith said pregnant women need to make sure they aren’t smoking, avoid alcohol, be careful of the cleaning supplies used, and watch certain foods. Those can all be contributing factors for a baby to develop a birth defect.

Smith also mentions that most defects can be detected before a baby is born with screenings and tests.

“Any conditions that might come up that might not affect the mom but could affect a growing fetus,” said Smith.

That’s why she emphasizes the importance of maintaining prenatal care and routinely seeing your doctor.