There's no sure way to prevent having a baby with a patent ductus arteriosus. However, it's important to do everything possible to have a healthy pregnancy. Here are some of the basics:

  • Seek early prenatal care, even before you're pregnant. Quitting smoking, reducing stress, stopping birth control — these are all things to talk to your doctor about before you get pregnant. Also discuss medications you're taking.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Include a vitamin supplement that contains folic acid.
  • Exercise regularly. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that's right for you.
  • Avoid risks. These include harmful substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs. Also avoid hot tubs and saunas.
  • Avoid infections. Update your vaccinations before becoming pregnant. Certain types of infections can be harmful to a developing baby.
  • Keep diabetes under control. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to manage the condition before and during pregnancy.

If you have a family history of heart defects or other genetic disorders, consider talking with a genetic counselor before becoming pregnant.

Dec. 16, 2014

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