Cleft palate. Spina Bifida. Down syndrome. Heart defects. There's a host of congenital or hereditary birth defects that could affect your growing fetus, and they're all scary for parents-to-be to even consider.
We hold our breath during blood tests and ultrasounds, hoping that our baby is developing normally. We don't relax until we get the thumbs up from our doctor. But the truth is, birth defects are hardly rare. Each year, almost 8 million babies around the world are born with one, including 1 in every 33 newborns in the U.S., according to the CDC. In some cases, the conditions are manageable; in others, they can be fatal.
Which is why 12 organizations across the globe have banded together to found the first World Birth Defects Day, which is on March 3. All day long, these groups, including the March of Dimes and the CDC, will spread the word about these health conditions, the care and treatment options, the prevention programs available, and (hopefully) effect change on a policy level.
Though some high-profile names are attached to the initiative, it's a total grassroots effort—the more parents who take to social media speak out about their experience with birth defects, the better. And getting involved is as simple as hopping online during your baby's next nap. Share your personal stories, post some statistics, or even point people to resources so they can educate themselves. Whatever your contribution is, just be sure to use the hashtag #WorldBDDay.
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
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Image of newborn courtesy of Shutterstock