FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            Connecticut Department of Public Health

January 21, 2009                                      Contact: William Gerrish

                                                                 (860) 509-7270



Hartford, CT – The Connecticut Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, is advising new moms to “Get Fit for their Pregnancy” because their health, including their weight, before, during and after pregnancy, is an important foundation to having a healthy baby who grows into a healthy child. 


According to health officials, the United States has more than 60 million women of childbearing age, and approximately one in five is obese.  Though many women may know that being overweight increases their chance for diabetes and other health conditions in themselves, they may not realize that being obese or even just overweight creates unnecessary risks to the baby’s health. 


“Moms who are overweight or obese have higher risk pregnancies,” stated Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin.  “They are more likely to experience hypertension, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia – conditions that add to the chance of having a premature baby.  Studies also show that babies of obese mothers are more likely to be born with birth defects, like spina bifida.”


“Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant can take control of their health to improve their chance of a healthy pregnancy,” added Dr. Galvin.  Good habits include regular physical activity, about 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or more.  Healthy eating means having a balanced diet that is low in fats and includes at least five or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables.  A woman should talk to her doctor or other healthcare provider about making healthy changes to get fit for pregnancy.  Getting to a healthier weight helps an expectant mother feel great.  And making better food choices for herself will prepare her to make healthier choices for her family. 


Good health habits for everyone also include knowing your family history, keeping regular check-ups with a doctor and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  For every woman, from puberty to menopause, these habits should also include taking a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid daily, starting before she gets pregnant, to improve the likelihood of delivering a healthy baby.


The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), with over 250 members nationwide, collects and exchanges information about birth defects and their prevention, encourages research, and provides technical support to state and local birth defects monitoring programs.


The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is a member of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network.  DPH monitors birth defects through the Connecticut Birth Defects Registry (CTBDR), a passive surveillance system developed to collect information about birth defects that occur among births for Connecticut residents.  The mission of the CTBDR is to maintain statewide surveillance through collecting information on birth defects in Connecticut; monitor trends and patterns in birth defects; conduct analyses to identify risk factors for birth defects; and promote education activities for the prevention of birth defects.


For more information on birth defects, please call DPH (860) 509-8074 or visit the following websites:


  • The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disability at CDC


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at or call (860) 509-7270.