YAKIMA Wa. -- A study shows birth defects in Yakima County are higher than the national average but there is a way mothers can help prevent that.
When Jesica Padilla’s baby was born 14 years ago, she says she had no idea there was something wrong with her baby, until she gave birth to her and noticed the baby was turning blue.
“She was a little blue and her doctor came in and checked her and they told me well she has some sort of problem I didn’t know what kind of problem it was,” said Padilla.
Padilla’s daughter Krystal Pacheco was born with Congenital Heart Disease a problem in the hearts structure that can affect blood flow and breathing.
Padilla says Krystal had to get heart surgery just three months after being born or else the consequences could be fatal.
“They told me the sooner the better or she was going to die she wasn’t going to make it that’s how they put it to me she either gets the surgery before the first year or she’s not going to make it,” said Padilla.
And Krystal isn’t the only one going through this.
According to a recent study from 2010 to 2016 in Benton, Franklin and Yakima County, there are dozens of birth defect cases especially anencephaly defect, in which babies are born missing part of the brain and skull.
The rate in these three counties is three to four times higher than the national average with 8.2 per 10,000 live births and the national average being 2 or 3 per 10,000 live births.
Health experts say it’s unclear what specifically is causing these defects and there is not one main factor, but there is a way to help prevent it.
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Senior Director of Quality Lori Kelley says Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth and can prevent up to 70 percent of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
“There’s lots of ways to get folic acid without taking the supplement, for individuals who are not of child barring age, including through their diet, you might take in more green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits or fortified cereals, grains,” said Kelley.
She says women need folic acid when they’re pregnant and even if they’re not, it’s still important for women to take it as much as possible.
As for Krystal, she says she is now healthier than ever and is thankful for being able to have a second chance at life.
“I’m very grateful for them because if not I honestly could’ve died in the first year that I was born so I’m really thankful for everyone,” said Krystal.
Women are encouraged to visit their clinic and speak with a dietitian about ways to add folic acid to your diet as soon as possible.