January is National Birth Defects Month

Sources: National Birth Defects Prevention Network, American Academy of Family Physicians, and Ohio Academy of Family Physicians

Birth defects are structural changes that can affect almost any part of the body, such as the heart, brain, or foot, and can cause lifelong health challenges. Birth defects are common, affecting 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. Not all birth defects can be prevented, and they can occur in any family, regardless of race, ethnicity, health history, or economic status.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) raises awareness of birth defects and promotes strategies that reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications. National Birth Defects Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness about birth defects and highlight efforts to improve the health of people living with these conditions across their lifespan. As early identification, medical care and treatment have improved, babies and children with birth defects are living longer and healthier lives. That is why NBDPN’s 2024 theme is “Every Journey Matters,” highlighting that from prior to diagnosis, throughout childhood and adulthood, birth defects affect people in each phase of life.

This January, take time to learn about:

  • Birth defect prevention before and during pregnancy
  • Survival and health of infants with birth defects
  • Educational needs and special healthcare needs for children with birth defects
  • Transition from pediatric to adult medical care for adolescents
  • Planning for pregnancy, recurrence prevention, and genetics and family history for adults with birth defects.

Join NBDPN and in improving the health of those living with birth defects and reduce the risks of babies being born with birth defects. NBDPN resources can be accessed on its website. Also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for resources for before and during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is focusing on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) during National Birth Defects Awareness Month. 

Education and Resources on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.

Following are resources curated by the American Academy of Family Physicians to help you plan and implement FASD screening in your practice:

The AAFP also has a free continuing medical education (CME) activity, Addressing Prenatal Alcohol and Other Substance Use, comprised of two sessions and a performance improvement activity to support family physicians and their team members in enhancing screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for prenatal alcohol and other substance use for improved patients outcomes for up to 21.75 AAFP Prescribed CME credits.

The following are resources to use in your office and provide to patients: