National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Start: January 1-January 30, 2021

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects and the impact on families.

Birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy or after the baby is born. Birth defects occur when there are structural changes during the first three months of pregnancy affecting one or more parts of the body. About 1 in 33 babies (3%) are born in the United States is born with a birth defect. Birth defects are also the leading cause of infant deaths accounting for 20% of all infant deaths.

Types of birth defects include:

  • Anencephaly
  • Spina Bifida
  • Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate
  • Down Syndrome
  • Microcephaly
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Edwards Syndrome
  • Patau Syndrome


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a digital toolkit and materials- Birth Defects COUNT Free Materials | CDC

You can join March of Dimes TwitterChat  by following@Marchofdimes

Use the hashtags on your social media #nationalbirthdefectsprevention, #birthdefects

World Braille Day

Date: January 4, 2022

World Braille day is an international day sponsored by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of braille and to celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille, the creator of the braille writing system.

The first World Braille day was celebrated on January 4, 2019. The proclamation was signed November, 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 near Paris, France while playing with his father’s tools at the age of 3, he lost his sight and at the age of 10, was sent to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth. Inspired by Charles Barbier night reading system at the age 15, Louis invented the braille system which became more widely used in 1854. The braille system was quickly adopted by other schools in France and would eventually be used worldwide.


You can find out more information on the Path to Literacy website: January 4th is World Braille Day | Paths to Literacy

Braille Activities and Resources

Braille Teaching Resources

Helpful Braille Resources You Should Know About

Teaching Visually Impaired Students

11 strategies that improve emotional control at school and home

Published by: ADDitude Magazine

Written by:

Emotional regulation is a life-long skill that yields benefits in school, work, and relationships. Here are simple strategies for teaching kids to recognize, name, and mange their intense ADHD emotions. Executive function and emotional control walk in lockstep. Stress and emotional flooding affect how children with ADHD learn, play, engage with classmates, follow directions, and retain information. When they enter a heightened state of arousal, their ADHD brain wiring can interfere with social-emotional learning and sabotage self-regulation, making it difficult to access the curriculum, respond appropriately, reframe challenges, react with strategies, or problem solve. Click here to read the rest of the story

‘Sounding it out’ not so easy for children with dyslexia

Published by: Western News
Written by: Jeff Renaud

For years, competent and well-educated elementary school teachers and well-intentioned, if exasperated, parents have routinely repeated a mantra to struggling early readers: “Sound it out.”

But what if a child can’t? What if something in a child’s brain is blocking their very efforts to achieve such a seemingly simple task?

As part of a multi-year project, partly funded by BrainsCAN, cognitive neuroscientists at Western’s Brain and Mind Institute studied children’s brains using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After a deep dive into the data, they discovered a biological deficit for some that impairs phonological decoding – the ability to sound words out. Click here for the rest of the story.

What Is Spastic Cerebral Palsy? The Most Common Subtype

Published by: Verywell Health
Written by: Heidi Moawad

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition characterized by impaired motor control due to congenital (from birth) brain defects, often with other associated symptoms. There are four different types of cerebral palsy, and spastic cerebral palsy, also called hypertonic cerebral palsy, is the type that’s diagnosed in 80% of people who have cerebral palsy.

What Is Spastic Cerebral Palsy? 

Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by diminished motor control and spasticity of the muscles. Spasticity is tightness and rigidity of the muscle, sometimes with a jerky component. Contractures can develop in the affected muscles, resulting in a tight, fixed position of a limb that is difficult to move, even passively.

Spastic cerebral palsy can involve paresis (motor weakness) or plegia (paralysis) of the affected muscles. Three subtypes of spastic cerebral palsy are defined by which parts of the body are affected.

You or your child may have:2

  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis affecting one limb or the arm and leg on one side of the body
  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis, affecting both legs
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis affecting all four limbs

The main difference between spastic cerebral palsy and the other defined types—ataxic cerebral palsy (predominated by coordination and balance problems) and dyskinetic cerebral palsy (predominated by abnormal involuntary movements)—is that spasticity is a predominant symptom of spastic type.


The symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy can affect one or both sides of the body and might involve just one limb. Impaired voluntary movements, spasms, jerking, tremors, and muscle tightness can be present. In addition to motor effects, spastic cerebral palsy can also cause cognitive deficits, vision impairment, diminished hearing, and seizures.  The condition affects each of the different muscle groups in the body in specific ways. Click here to read the rest of the story