About birth defects
Birth defects can be minor or severe. They may affect appearance, organ function, and physical and mental development. Most birth defects are present within the primary three months of pregnancy, when the organs are still forming. Some birth defects are harmless. Others require long-term medical treatment. Severe birth defects are the leading cause of infant death in the United States, accounting for 20 percent Trusted Source of deaths.
What causes birth defects?
Birth defects can be a result of:
Ø lifestyle choices and behaviors
Ø exposure to certain medications and chemicals
Ø infections during pregnanc
Ø a combination of these factors
However, the precise causes of certain birth defects are often unknown.
The mother or father may expire genetic abnormalities to their baby. Genetic abnormalities occur when a gene becomes flawed thanks to a mutation, or change. In some cases, a gene or a part of a gene could be missing. These defects happen at conception and often can’t be prevented. A particular defect could also be present throughout the case history of 1 or both parents.
The causes of some birth defects are often difficult or impossible to spot . However, certain behaviors greatly increase the danger of birth defects. These include smoking, using illegal drugs, and drinking alcohol while pregnant. Other factors, like exposure to toxic chemicals or viruses, also increase risk.
What are the risk factors for birth defects?
All pregnant women have some risk of delivering a toddler with a congenital anomaly . Risk increases under any of the following conditions:
Ø family history of birth defects or other genetic disorders
Ø drug use, alcohol consumption, or smoking during pregnancy
Ø maternal age of 35 years or older
Ø inadequate prenatal care
Ø untreated viral or bacterial infections, including sexually transmitted infections
Ø use of certain high-risk medications, such as isotretinoin and lithium
Common birth defects
Birth defects are typically classified as structural or functional and developmental.Structural defects are when a selected part is missing or malformed. The most common structural defects are:
Ø heart defects
Ø cleft lip or palate, when there’s an opening or split in the lip or roof of the mouth
Ø spina bifida, when the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly
Ø clubfoot, when the foot points inward instead of forward
Functional or developmental birth defects cause a part or system to not work properly. These often cause disabilities of intelligence or development. Functional or developmental birth defects include metabolic defects, sensory problems, and systema nervosum problems. Metabolic defects cause problems with the baby’s body chemistry.
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