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National Birth Defects Awareness Month

Healthy Communities, Healthy Babies

The CDC estimates that birth defects occur in about 1 in every 33 infants born in the United States each year. While not all birth defects can be prevented, a woman can take steps to reduce her own risk of having a baby born with a birth defect. January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month and presents an opportunity for WIC staff to raise awareness of this topic. 

Among the ways that WIC plays a role in helping to spread the word is by educating women and their families about the dangers of substance use and the importance of committing to healthy choices as a key strategy for preventing birth defects.

Just as important, WIC staff provide nutrition education in addition to prescribing tailored food packages that can help participants meet their recommended daily intake of folic acid, a nutrient important in helping to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. (Be sure to check out WIC Meal of the Month: Focus on Folate for recipes to help your participants make the most of their WIC foods!)

Educational and Other Resources for Sharing

To learn more and help educate your participants about this topic, you can visit CDC's birth defects homepage (also available in Spanish) that includes a What's New section and a number of free, downloadable resources, including:

Explore the WIC Works Resource System to find additional resources related to folic acid and developmental disabilitiesas well as Zika and COVID-19two infectious diseases with the potential to impact pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Developmental Milestone Checklist Program

The Developmental Milestone Checklist program for WIC, developed through a collaboration with WIC State programs and CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program, helps WIC providers engage parents in monitoring their children’s development from age 2 months through 5 years and support them with timely referrals when developmental concerns are identified.


Promotional Resources

CDC offers infographics and web buttons you can post to your website, blogs, electronic newsletters and social media channels to help increase the awareness of birth defects.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) offers 5 Prevention Tips for Healthy Communities and Healthy Babies. These tips include actions that individuals and community organizers can take before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. The NBDPN provides a Tips Resource Map showing related resources for some of the tips by state and area. There is also a sample proclamation and sample news releases. Previous years’ toolkits that are still available offer:

  • videos (including one in Spanish)
  • themed resources related to each of the 5 Tips for Preventing Birth Defects
  • fact sheet for dads
  • graphics and social media ideas (including sample posts)
  • proclamation that can be tailored to your state
  • a sample news release
  • resources to help evaluate your social media reach
  • materials adapted for local public health agencies

Family Support and Advocacy 

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