Earlier this month I highlighted Folic Acid Awareness Week and PowerMeA2Z as part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month. I also want to recognize Governor Doug Ducey’s proclamation declaring January 2016 as Birth Defects Prevention Month in Arizona. There are approximately 700 serious birth defects reported each year in Arizona, which are tracked by the Arizona Birth Defects Monitoring Program. The program works under guidance from CDC and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network to highlight birth defects prevention strategies.

The theme of this year’s National Birth Defects Prevention Month is: “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects. Make a PACT for Prevention,” which stands for Plan Ahead, Avoid Harmful Substances, Choose a Healthy Lifestyle, and Talk to your Healthcare Provider. Using these guidelines,

women and men are encouraged to prepare for pregnancy by being as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant. The focus on preconception health has the potential to improve overall birth outcomes and reduce the rate of birth defects.