Make a PACT to Prevent Birth Defects

Birth Defect Month

Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect.  In fact, 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect according to the CDC.  This January is Birth Defects Prevention Month; we wanted to share some ways to help you make healthy choices to prevent birth defects.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network is asking people to “Make a PACT” for birth defect prevention.  Here are some great tips to help you with that PACT:

  • Plan ahead
    • Get as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant.
    • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
  • Avoid harmful substances
    • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
    • Be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.
  • Choose a healthy lifestyle
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean proteins.
    • Be physically active.
    • Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.
  • Talk to your doctor
    • Get a medical checkup.
    • Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
    • Talk about family history.

For more information on what you can do to make a PACT please check out the National Birth Defects Prevention  Network’s website.

January is National Blood Donor Month, When Donations are Needed Most

DonateBlood-LaneBloodCenter-HopValley-2015Did you know that blood donations are only usable for a short period of time? Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, so blood centers have a constant need for blood donations. (Platelets need to be used within five days, and plasma can be frozen for up to a year).

With a short time to use blood donations, blood centers need a consistent flow (pardon the bad pun!) of donations to secure a safe supply throughout the year. And year after year, January is the month when blood centers have the least amount of blood on-hand.

The reasons? Leading into the month of January, people are celebrating the holidays, and finding time to donate blood becomes difficult. When the month of January arrives, folks get sick and the weather gets worse, causing people to miss their scheduled appointments and donation events to be canceled. Because of this, January was declared National Blood Donor Month, and local and national blood centers strongly urge people to schedule an appointment or drop on in to a donation event.

Donating blood doesn’t cost anything, takes little time (around an hour), and can make a great difference in someone’s life—including saving one! Also, donors are not left empty handed. After each donation, donors receive:

  • A lollypop, a cookie, and a glass of juice
  • Time to spend with family and friends (don’t go alone, ask a loved one to join)
  • A momentary pinching feeling in your arm (not so much a benefit, unless you think you are dreaming!)
  • The opportunity to prove that you are not a wimp when you see a needle
  • Information about your blood, including fourteen tests, 11 for infectious diseases
  • The fantastic feeling of helping others

So, if you are part of the 38 percent of Americans who are eligible to donate blood, seriously consider this time of year to schedule an appointment, or head to your local blood center and donate! Visit a link to find a center or event near you:

And, to those who have and will give blood, thank you!

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“Everybody can be great…because anyone can serve.” Martin Luther King


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.”


Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday is also known as Martin Luther King Day of Service and is a part of the United We Serve Initiative.  Americans are called to action to give of themselves in service to others. The President has asked Americans to give their time and talent by serving meals, planting trees, being a mentor, or any other act of service.


We all know that when you give, you also receive.  If you have volunteered your time at a soup kitchen or mentored a child, then you have probably left with a “helpers high.” Research has shown that people who frequently volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later on in life.


PacificSource urges you to give of your time and talent on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 19, to give back to your community in some way.  Click here for a list of toolkits that can help you plan a Day of Service.