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Governor Proclaims Birth Defects Prevention Month

January 3, 2003

Bismarck, N.D. - Governor John Hoeven has proclaimed January as Birth Defects Prevention Month in North Dakota.

Each year, about 150,000 infants are born with a birth defect in the United States. In addition, birth defects are the leading cause of infant death nationwide. In 2000, an estimated 92 infants were born in North Dakota with congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect monitored in the state.

"January has been designated as Birth Defects Prevention Month to highlight the importance of efforts intended to prevent medical problems in our youngest, most vulnerable citizens," Hoeven said.

2003 is the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Public Health Service recommendation that all women who are capable of becoming pregnant consume folic acid, a B vitamin that is an essential nutrient for proper growth and development. Taking folic acid each day before becoming pregnant and in the early weeks of pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

In North Dakota, the incidence of birth defects is monitored and studied by the North Dakota Birth Defects Monitoring System, a collaborative effort involving the North Dakota Department of Health, the North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS), the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine.

The state chapter of the March of Dimes conducts a folic acid education and information campaign. The Division of Medical Genetics at UND provides specialized services to individuals affected by birth defects and their families. In addition, children with chronic health conditions and their families may benefit from treatment, multidisciplinary clinics, and other services provided by the Children's Special Health Services Unit in the department of human services.


Terry Bohn, DHS Children's Special Health Services Unit, at (701) 328-4963


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