Genetic disorders are the cause of up to 50% of childhood deaths in industrialized nations. The causes of these conditions range from UV radiation exposure and smoking to genetic mutations caused by infections during pregnancy. The good news, though, is that more than 600 of these disorders are either treatable or completely preventable with the right treatment.
The risk of having a child with a genetic disorder increases when the maternal age of a mother is over 40. Moreover, children most commonly inherit genetic disorders from one or both of their parents. As a parent, you hold the keys to your child’s genetic health, which is why you need to start taking steps from pregnancy onward to help ensure your child’s wellbeing. To do this, here are a few ways in which you can prevent your child from inheriting these preventative conditions.
Take Your Daily Dosage of Folic Acid
Folic acid is extremely effective in preventing several genetic disorders associated with the brain and spine. Folic acid is also an extremely helpful B-vitamin that promotes a baby’s health and improves the production of red blood cells in your body. Consuming at least 400mg of folic acid every day during the pregnancy, and also before it, is beneficial for helping to prevent conditions such as anencephaly (a severe birth defect that can impair the child’s quality of life)
Get Screened Early In Your Pregnancy
Early screenings are the first and most important step for the early detection of genetic disorders. Screenings can help identify and diagnose potential genetic or chromosomal disorders in a growing baby. Noninvasive prenatal genetic screening can be carried out as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Undergoing these regular tests can help doctors get more accurate results throughout the course of pregnancy.
Practice Healthy Habits During Pregnancy
Being healthy during your pregnancy is the most efficient and effective way of preventing your child from developing genetic disorders. Not only do healthy habits improve a mother’s health, but they also improve her immune system and the immune system of her child. This allows a growing baby to fight off conditions as they appear, or prevent them from appearing altogether.
Squeeze Light Exercise Into Your Routine
Pregnant women need at least two and half hours of aerobic activity every week in order to remain healthy, according to the ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Recommended exercises include slow to brisk walking, swimming, or even gardening. If you haven’t been exercising much prior to getting pregnant, you can start with just five minutes a day and then gradually increase time and intensity as you go.
Get the Required Quantities of Nutrients
Although you might think that your diet is a balanced one, there’s always a chance that you might be missing out on one nutrient or the other, especially if you’re not considering fortified food options. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about this and consider other sources of these nutrients if needed, such as getting personalized vitamins. This can help prevent certain conditions, such as neural tube defects.
Focus on Sleep and Healthy Habits
Getting enough sleep is essential for your baby’s health. In addition to this, you should also try to stay far away from substances such as tobacco and alcohol, as they have been directly correlated with causing genetic disorders in children. This also applies to passive smoking and other forms of indirect nicotine consumption. It’s best to try to be on high alert and ask the people you stay around to be cooperative during your pregnancy.
Ensuring a Healthy Pregnancy
If you’re worried about your future children inheriting genetic disorders, now is the time to pursue genetic screening. With timely action, you can help ensure a healthier and safer future for your child.
While dealing with genetic disorders can be stressful, taking the right actions early on can help relieve anxiety. Remember that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of support groups available to provide resources that will make the journey easier.