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Birth Defects Prevention and Preparedness

BC Women’s is committed to preventing birth defects and providing women with the information they need to prepare for a healthy baby.
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​While not all birth defects are preventable, there are many things that you can do to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle prior to, during and after pregnancy, you will positively impact your child – setting them on a healthy trajectory for life. For example, folic acid supplementation (0.4mg-1mg) for women who are at low risk helps to reduce the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect. Women who are thinking about conceiving should start taking folic acid.

What can you do to prevent birth defects if you are pregnant?

  • Talk to your doctor. Find out about vitamin supplements that you may integrate into your daily diet. Visit your doctor regularly.
  • Avoid harmful substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • Keep your body healthy and eat well. You can dial 8-1-1 to speak with a dietitian and ask questions about what to eat when you are pregnant. Avoid foods that might carry food-borne illnesses such as raw eggs, raw fish and unpasteurized juices. 
  • Stay active. Pregnant women need exercise too! If you have questions about what exercises may work for you, ask your doctor.
Researchers at BC Women’s are also involved in an international study to understand the risks of birth defects related to maternal chronic diseases and medical treatments of these diseases during pregnancy. All pregnant women receiving care at BC Women’s and Health Centre are invited to participate in these studies. For more information on available studies or to be referred to a counselling service, contact Dr. Sura Alwan at 604 875 2000 ext. 5980 or email:

If you or your partner has a known or suspected genetic condition or birth defect, BC Women’s encourages women and families to seek referrals to our Medical Genetics Program

SOURCE: Birth Defects Prevention and Preparedness ( )
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