The twitter-sphere was all aglow yesterday for the first-ever World Birth Defects Day. In fact, 6,154,146 people were reached worldwide! Yup. It’s not a typo.
Twelve leading global organizations including the March of Dimes, along with scores of other foundations, hospitals, health care providers, government agencies, parents and individuals with birth defects took to Twitter to raise awareness. People in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, and individuals from all over the United States participated. As the day progressed, #worldbdday tweets continually popped up on my computer screen. In case you missed it, here is a snapshot of important messages.
Birth defects are surprisingly common
Did you know that every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the US?
In the US, about 1 in 5 babies die before their 1st birthday due to birth defects.
Birth defects affect 1 in 33 infants worldwide.
More than 8 million babies worldwide are born each year with a serious birth defect.
There are thousands of different birth defects, and about 70% of the causes are unknown.
The most common birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome.
In the US, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect every 15 minutes.
More than 300,000 major birth defects of the brain and spine occur worldwide each year.
Many birth defects are discovered after the baby leaves the hospital or within the 1st year of life.
More than 3.3 million children under 5 years of age die from birth defects each year.
Babies who survive & live with birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities & lifelong challenges.
Early intervention services may help babies w/ BDs; get your child help by starting early.
Birth defects are costly. Financial and emotional costs of birth defects take a toll on families and communities worldwide.
Learn how to decrease your risk of having a baby with birth defects
Taking folic acid before & early in pregnancy can help to reduce the risk for BDs of the brain & spine.
Smoking during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of certain BDs. It’s never too late to quit.
We can’t prevent all birth defects. We CAN prevent FASD! (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)
FASDs are 100% preventable.
Alcohol can cause your baby to have BDs (heart, brain & other organs). Don’t drink if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Being overweight before pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects.
Not all BDs are preventable, but women can take steps toward a healthy pregnancy.
Make a PACT: plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk to your doctor.
Awareness of birth defects & the importance of care for children with these lifelong conditions is key.
The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
March of Dimes has invested more than $50 million in birth defects research in the last 5 years.
Genetics has long been a main theme of March of Dimes research.
MOD grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects.
These discoveries pave the way for treatments and preventions for these birth defects.
See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.