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Five simple resolutions for a healthy pregnancy

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month and National Folic Acid Awareness Week.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., -- The March of Dimes is encouraging women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, to make a New Year's resolution to be as healthy as they can, including taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid every day to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the week of Jan 5th through 12th is set aside for Folic Acid Awareness Week. Folic acid is a B vitamin proven to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Besides taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid, here are other resolutions for women who may become pregnant:

1. Don't smoke and avoid second hand smoke

Smoking increases the risk of premature birth and the risk of oral clefts.

2. Don't use alcohol or illegal drugs

They can cause lifelong health problems for the baby, including fetal alcohol syndrome.

3. Check with your doctor before taking any medication

Including herbal products, prescription pain medications, and statins. Some studies have found that women who took some prescriptions pain medications had a higher risk of having a baby with a heart defect, spina bifida, or gastroschisis, a hole in the abdominal wall.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Being very overweight or underweight can increase the risk of prematurity and birth defects.

5. Be Food Smart

Avoid fish high in mercury or lead, raw and undercooked meat and unpasteurized juice and dairy products and reduce caffeine.

Photo: Fotolia

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