Prevention Prior To & During Pregnancy

Even if a pregnant woman takes prevention measures, there is still a risk of having a child with a birth defect. However, following healthy habits early and often gives women the best chance to have healthy babies.

Prevention for Women Planning to Have Children

  • Have regular medical checkups.
  • Eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Make sure that medical conditions, like diabetes, are under control
  • Take a vitamin with folic acid every day.
  • Don't smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs.
  • Talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking including prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary or herbal products.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic second-hand smoke, chemicals and fumes.
  • Have tests for infectious diseases and get necessary vaccinations.
  • Wash your hands often to avoid getting sick.
  • Avoid changing/cleaning kitty litter boxes.
  • Avoid x-rays and other radiation.

Additional Information

Interactive Resources

  • Text 4 Baby

    Sign up for free text messages to keep you and your baby healthy. Join the hundreds of thousands of moms who receive free text messages throughout their pregnancy and their baby's first year. Visit Text4Baby or text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.

  • Pregnancy Risk Network

    A free information service, offered by New York State, that provides up to date information about the potential effects of medications, maternal illness, drugs and other exposures on the developing embryo/fetus. The Pregnancy Risk Network serves pregnant women, women planning pregnancy, their families and health care providers. Visit Pregnancy Risk Network or call 800-724-2454.

  • Growing Up Healthy Hotline

    The Growing Up Healthy Hotline (1-800-522-5006) provides information about health care, nutrition and other health and human services. The hotline provides information and referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English, Spanish and other languages. All calls are confidential. An operator will help identify the services needed and provide information on how to locate a provider in your area.

Printable Materials


If your child was born with a birth defect, your child's doctor may have discussed with you the specific aspects of your child's medical condition. However, there may be additional services and support available to you, your child, and your family.

Visit our Resources for Families page for a list of resources that may be useful. If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or our Growing Up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006.

If you are a health care professional or researcher, visit our Resources for Health Professionals & Researchers page.