• Home
  • January 2021 Educational Resources to Help Prevent Birth Defects Newsletter


Educational Materials to
Help Prevent Birth Defects

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a great time to promote awareness of the steps a woman can take to help prevent birth defects, which can pose serious risks to a baby’s overall health and development.

It is estimated that about 1 in every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect. Most birth defects develop in the first three months of pregnancy, during the most sensitive period of fetal development when a baby’s organs are forming. Some common birth defects include spina bifida (a neural tube defect that can cause physical and intellectual disabilities), congenital heart defects, and cleft lip and cleft palate.

The cause of most birth defects is unknown, and not all birth defects can be prevented. Genetics and environmental factors may play a role. However, certain substances, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and some drugs and chemicals, are also linked to birth defects. Fortunately, a woman can make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid harmful substances to help prevent birth defects in her baby.

At Childbirth Graphics, we strive to nurture healthy babies and grow healthy families through our innovative childbirth education materials. In our product sections dedicated to nutrition, pregnancy, and pregnancy hazards, we have numerous teaching tools that are perfect to educate women who want to become pregnant and women who are pregnant about the importance of healthy nutrition during pregnancy, proper prenatal care, and avoiding harmful substances.

Read on to discover just a few of our educational resources that can help a woman make healthy choices to help prevent birth defects in her developing baby.

Nutrition Education Teaching Tools

Good nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy, and getting proper nutrition while avoiding certain substances in the diet can help reduce the risk of birth defects. Our 14-panel Nutrition During Pregnancy Flip Chart is a great way to present and promote healthy eating for a healthy pregnancy.

Our Nutrition During Pregnancy Flip Chart is ideal
to discuss the key nutritional needs of pregnancy.

In addition to covering each of MyPlate’s food groups, the flip chart discusses important nutrients during pregnancy, including folate, a B vitamin, and its synthetic form, folic acid, which is used in supplements and to fortify foods. The terms “folate” and “folic acid” are often used interchangeably. It is recommended that a woman take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before pregnancy and 600 micrograms during pregnancy to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine (neural tube defects). The flip chart also emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced diet before and during pregnancy, including grains fortified with folic acid (such as breads and cereals) and foods including natural folate, such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and lentils.

The Nutrition During Pregnancy Flip Chart also addresses food safety, including the avoidance of consuming certain fish—such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish—that may contain mercury. Babies who are exposed to mercury during pregnancy may experience problems with hearing or vision and brain damage.

Our Nutrition During Pregnancy Food Set is also a great way to discuss the importance of healthy eating to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby and to present foods rich in folate to help prevent neural tube defects.

Our Nutrition During Pregnancy Food Set features realistic food
models to present the importance of healthy eating during pregnancy.

The set of 16 faux food models includes several foods containing natural folate, such as broccoli, spinach, sweet corn, and strawberries, and foods that may be enriched with folic acid, such as enriched oatmeal and crackers.

Pregnancy Education Resources

In Childbirth Graphics’ diverse line of pregnancy education resources, we have many materials that deal with the importance of prenatal care, including the avoidance of substances that can increase the risk of birth defects.

A great activity for teaching groups or working one-on-one with clients, our Prenatal Care Box Display contains 13 objects that serve as ice breakers or conversation starters to get patients or clients talking and thinking about safety concerns during pregnancy, many of which can be linked to birth defects. The box comes with detailed presentation notes that provide information about the safety concerns represented by each object in the box.

Our Prenatal Care Box Display is a great teaching tool to
spark discussion about substances to avoid during pregnancy.

For example, the box’s model of a beer bottle is a great segue into discussions about the hazards of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. A range of effects called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) can occur in a baby whose mother used alcohol during pregnancy. These effects—including possible mental, physical, behavioral, and learning disabilities—may have a lifelong impact. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FAS) is the most severe type of FASD and can cause a range of serious health issues, including heart defects, limb deformities, and developmental disabilities. Another type of FASD is alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD), which involves birth defects of the bones and major organ systems.

No known level of alcohol consumption is proved to be safe, and all fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (including FAS and alcohol-related birth defects) are completely preventable if a woman consumes no alcohol during pregnancy.

Some of the other models in the Prenatal Care Box Display associated with exposures that can lead to birth defects include a cigarette (representing tobacco), a cat (representing toxoplasmosis that may be in cat feces), and a paint brush (representing chemicals to limit). Some birth defects that may be caused by exposure to these items include cleft lip and palate (tobacco); hearing impairment, vision problems, and intellectual disability (toxoplasmosis); and developmental problems with the brain and nervous system (lead exposure as from lead in old paint).

Other Childbirth Graphics educational materials that deal with a full range of prenatal care issues include our 78-page With Child™ Desk Version and our Prenatal Care Booklet, a great, 16-page handout to give to women who are planning to conceive or are already pregnant.

Our Prenatal Care Booklet emphasizes preconception
care to help reduce the risk of birth defects.

Both of these resources emphasize preconception care and planning to help reduce the risk of birth defects. Important parts of preconception care may include receiving vaccinations against German measles (rubella), hepatitis B, and chickenpox (varicella), as well as achieving a healthy weight prior to becoming pregnant. Babies born to mothers who were obese when they became pregnant are at increased risk for neural tube defects, heart defects, and cleft palate.

Pregnancy Hazards

Smoking during pregnancy puts babies at risk for serious health consequences, including miscarriage and stillbirth, preterm birth, low birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and birth defects. In addition to cleft lip and cleft palate as previously mentioned, smoking during pregnancy is associated with other birth defects, including shortened or missing limbs and abnormalities in head shape or facial structure.

The Smoking and Your Baby Folding Display explains
that smoking increases the risk for birth defects.

Our Smoking and Your Baby Folding Display highlights the dangers to babies caused by smoking during pregnancy and exposure to tobacco smoke after birth. The three colorful panels explain that smoking during pregnancy can lead to infant brain and lung damage, low birthweight (a leading cause of infant mortality), birth defects, and other life-threatening consequences. After birth, infants and young children exposed to cigarette smoke are at increased risk for SIDS, asthma, and other serious health conditions, as well as delayed language development, behavioral problems, decreased IQ, and more. Explaining that no amount of smoking is safe during pregnancy, the folding display is a persuasive tool to encourage women to quit smoking and keep their children away from tobacco smoke.

Viewers get a powerful inside look at how substance abuse affects a developing fetus with our What Mommy Does, Baby Does Display. This attention-grabbing display interactively provides three stark visual demonstrations of how alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can harm a baby inside the womb.

Our What Mommy Does, Baby Does™ Display provides an interactive
look at how opioids and other substances can reach a developing fetus.

When colored liquids representing alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs are placed in the mouth of the mother on the display, viewers can see how these substances can travel to the fetus. The detailed activity guide explains the harms associated with each substance, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and heart and brain abnormalities associated with abusing drugs such as methamphetamine and amphetamines.

Discover More Resources

To discover many more educational resources to help women decrease their babies’ risk for birth defects, please visit our product sections dedicated to pregnancy, pregnancy hazards, and nutrition.

©2021 Childbirth Graphics®