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Press Release

January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month
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Maternal and Child Health
Publish Date:
January 8, 2015

Concord, NH – In honor of January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month–2015, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth is inviting New Hampshire women and their families to make a PACT to reduce the risk of birth defects in their future children by making healthy choices throughout their reproductive years. Even though not all birth defects can be prevented, women, including teens, can lower their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years:

Plan ahead
Avoid harmful substances
Choose a healthy lifestyle
Talk with your doctor

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. Every 4½ minutes a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States. In New Hampshire, more than 2,800 new birth conditions have been reported to the NH Birth Conditions Program since tracking began in 2003. Become an active participant in Birth Defects Prevention Month and join a nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects, their causes, and their impact.

"The health of women prior to pregnancy can affect the risk of having a child with a birth defect," said Stephanie Miller, Director of the NH Birth Conditions Program. "Diet, lifestyle choices, factors in the environment, health conditions, and medications before and during pregnancy all can play a role in preventing or increasing the risk of birth defects."

"Small steps, such as making healthy choices, visiting a healthcare provider well before pregnancy, controlling your weight through healthy diet and activity, and taking a multivitamin every day, can go a long way," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS.

Women and their loved ones are encouraged to participate in their PACT and take these important preventive steps that can lead to a reduction in the number of birth defects. Learn more about the effect you can have on birth defects at the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website at and

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