Our Role in Preventing Birth Defects and Congenital Disabilities

Dr Sanjay Jessani 10:57 AM, 1 Jan, 2022
Our Role in Preventing Birth Defects and Congenital Disabilities

Not all congenital disabilities or birth problems, in practice, can be averted. Yet, before getting pregnant, a woman can strengthen her odds of having a healthy baby by adopting good lifestyle conditions and practising healthy behaviour. As a society, we can address these shortcomings by taking preventive measures.

Birth Defects

As a matter of fact, not all congenital disabilities or birth defects can be prevented. However, a woman can increase their chances of conceiving a healthy baby by adopting healthy lifestyle conditions and practising healthy behaviour before becoming pregnant. We can overcome these defects by practising the following disciplines as a society. 


Many medical studies suggest that having 400 micrograms of folic acid (vitamin B9) can help prevent major congenital diseases of the brain and spinal cord.

Regular health checkups

A woman should consult her doctor while planning a pregnancy. She should start prenatal care during pregnancy to prevent future mishaps.

Quit alcohol

Alcohol passes from the mother's bloodstream to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. Therefore alcohol causes many deleterious effects during pregnancy, such as miscarriages, stillbirths and many physical or behavioural abnormalities. Hence, alcohol is considered unsafe during pregnancy.

Stop smoking cigarettes

Smoking cigarettes can cause several health issues. It is considered more harmful during pregnancy because there are certain birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate and infant death caused by smoking cigarettes.

Controlling diabetes 

Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy alleviates the chances of birth defects and other health conditions. Therefore women should consult a healthcare professional before and during pregnancy to avoid birth defects and other health conditions. 

Controlling obesity 

An obese woman whose BMI (body mass index) is 30 or higher is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Obesity during pregnancy increases a baby's risk of several serious complications such as heart defects and neural tube defects. Therefore obese women should consult their doctors and lose weight to prevent such complications.

Consult healthcare professional before taking any medications 

Most of the medications are safe during pregnancy, but certain medications have teratogenic effects (harmful to babies during pregnancy). Therefore always consult a healthcare provider before taking any medication during pregnancy.


Vaccinations like adult tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis (TDAP) is considered safe and recommended explicitly during pregnancy. These vaccines are helpful to fight against infections that can cause birth defects during pregnancy. However, it is still necessary to consult a doctor before taking any vaccines.

Dr Sanjay Jessani
Dr Sanjay Jessani

The author is contributing writer at Medical News Pakistan and can be reached at



Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Sign up for Newsletter