January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. There are several ways that fathers-to-be can help as well.

Here are five simple tips for every dad:

Tip 1: Try to maintain a healthy weight
o Incorporate eating healthy food and regular physical activity into your daily routine. Obesity
in men has been linked to lower fertility and a higher risk of insulin issues in their
children.

Tip 2: Boost your health by avoiding harmful substances
o Protect yourself and your partner by quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke and
air pollution.
o Do not drink excessively or use certain drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.
o Avoid excessive use of marijuana. Use of marijuana has been linked to lower sperm
production and lower sperm quality.
o If you require pain management or addiction treatment, talk to your healthcare provider
about alternatives to long-term use of opioids. Long-term use of opioids can interfere with
testosterone production, which is important for sperm production.

Tip 3: Avoid harmful workplace exposures
o Ask questions about hazards in your workplace. You have a legal right to receive
information on hazards in your workplace.
o Learn how to avoid bringing work hazards home on your skin, clothes, and shoes.

Tip 4: Avoid infections
o Get vaccinated.
o Become up-to-date with all vaccines to protect yourself and your partner before trying to
become pregnant.
o Get the flu shot and the whooping cough vaccine.
o Protect yourself and your partner from insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus. Zika
can cause birth defects.
 When mosquitos are active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
 Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents with one of the
following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (paramenthane-3, 8-diol).
 If you are planning to conceive with your partner, consider avoiding travel to an area
with Zika virus or wait at least three months after your return before trying to conceive
with your partner.
o Practice good hygiene.
 Wash your hands often with soap and water.
o Talk to your healthcare provider about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STDs).

Tip 5: Maintain good mental well-being and be supportive of your partner during pregnancy
o Talk to your healthcare provider about resources to plan for mental well-being during
parenthood. Some women experience depression during pregnancy or immediately after
birth, and this can impact their partner.
o Take an interest in your partner’s health during pregnancy. Infants have fewer
complications at birth when fathers are involved with their partners during pregnancy.
o Talk to your healthcare provider about your role in care and development of your future
child.

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