National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Detecting Birth Defects with Ultrasound Exams


Helping moms give birth to healthy babies is what National Birth Defects Prevention Month is all about. Every January, the medical community and birth defect education and awareness organizations team up to provide women with valuable information.

What are birth defects?

Birth defects are structural changes that can affect almost any part or parts of the baby. Birth defects can occur during any stage of pregnancy, but most develop within the first three months of pregnancy, when the organs of the baby are forming. Other birth defects occur later, during the last six months of pregnancy when organs continue to grow.

Preventing birth defects by avoiding infections

Not all birth defects can be prevented. But, by taking precautions against infections during pregnancy, women can increase their chances of having healthy babies. One of the best ways to guard against infection while you’re pregnant is to wash your hands often with soap and water. Especially after:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Touching raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • Preparing food/before eating
  • Gardening or touching dirt or soil

Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly if …

  • You’ve handled pets
  • You’re around people who are sick
  • You’ve gotten saliva on your hands
  • You work with children
  • You regularly change diapers

Detecting birth defects via ultrasound exam

During an ultrasound exam, safe, high frequency sound waves are used to create real-time images of the baby (or babies). Ultrasound scans can be done at any stage of pregnancy, as they are essential for producing key updates at different times.

The 19th and 20th weeks of pregnancy are considered an ideal time to check the baby’s physical development. At this point, ultrasound technology can accurately reveal the details of possible birth defects or other problems with the baby. Ultrasound can detect birth defects such as:

  • Spina bifida
  • Heart defects
  • Certain serious kidney problems
  • Down syndrome
  • Absence of a limb or part of a limb
  • Cleft palate (in some cases)

Advanced, accurate and trusted ultrasound in Anchorage

When a doctor orders an ultrasound, be it for obstetric reasons or another condition, that physician expects unfailing accuracy. And, so do you.

At Alaska Family Sonograms, our team of credentialed, highly skilled sonographers is focused on you. This means you’ll receive a precise ultrasound exam, and you’ll experience the superior standard of care we strive for each day. We want you to know we’re here to support you, care for you, inform you and listen to you. You will know what’s happening every step of the way, and rest assured, so will your doctor.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 909-536-1493 or click here to use our online form.