Healthy Lifestyle Choices Promoted During National Birth Defects Prevention Month

For Immediate Release: January 8 , 2007

Contact: Communication Office

BURLINGTON - Prenatal care starts with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, regular exercise and a daily multivitamin pill. Healthy lifestyle choices are important for 130,000 Vermont women of childbearing age who may not even be thinking about having a baby.

“Every year around half the babies born to Vermont mothers are the result of an unplanned pregnancy,” said Donald R. Swartz, MD, the Department of Health’s Medical Director. “The best way to go give your baby a good start in life is to make sure you are as healthy as you can be – before becoming pregnant.”

If you are planning a pregnancy, Dr. Swartz advises you to talk to your health care provider several months beforehand. The chance of a safe birth outcome is much improved when common health conditions are diagnosed and treated before pregnancy begins. For smokers, this would also be an excellent time to seek free help with quitting. Call 1-877-YES-QUIT for information.

Taking a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of the B-vitamin folic acid every day may reduce the risk of birth defects like spina bifida by more than a half. However, Dr. Swartz advises, “To provide the most benefit to your baby you need to start taking a folic acid supplement at least three months before becoming pregnant. This can be difficult if you are not actually planning a pregnancy. The best solution is to maintain good health habits for a lifetime and take a multivitamin every day from the outset.”

To learn more, please contact your health care provider or check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site:, and the March of Dimes web site:


Return to Top