Understanding Birth Defects
 

Types of Birth Defects Explained

One area of major defects that is common occurs in the heart. Another common structural defect is spina bifida. Two common metabolic defects are: Tay-Sachs disease and phenylketonuria (PKU).

 

Birth defects are abnormalities that occur in babies at birth involving structure, function or body metabolism.

These abnormalities can lead to mental, physical disabilities or both. Birth defects can be minor, serious or they can be fatal.

There are approximately 150,000 babies born every year in the United States with some kind of birth defect according to the March of Dimes.

There are three causes for birth defects. Birth defects can be genetically caused, a result of something in the environment or there may be unknown causes for the defect.

Metabolic defects and structural defects are those in which a body part is missing or is formed incorrectly or can occur when there is a problem with how the body chemistry works.

One area of major defects that is common occurs in the heart. Another common structural defect is spina bifida. Two common metabolic defects are: Tay-Sachs disease and phenylketonuria (PKU).

Metabolic birth defects involve a missing or incorrectly formed enzyme. A baby born with a metabolic birth defect can have serious consequences including fatality.

Congenital birth defects are those that are caused by infections such as rubella, cytomegalovirus, syphilis or chicken pox.

Vitamin A Birth Defects

Chronic Conditions: Certain chronic conditions that the mom-to-be may have can have an effect on the unborn baby such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and PKU. These conditions must be under control and those with PKU need to be on a special diet before conceiving and continue on the special diet through the entire pregnancy. Obesity may also have consequences for the developing fetus so the mom may wish to control her weight before conceiving.

Birth defects can also be caused by alcohol abuse during pregnancy as well as certain medications.

Birth defects can occur to babies who have healthy parents. The age of the parent has relatively little to do with the occurrence of birth defects as babies have been born to young couples.

Birth defects also happen to couples that have followed all instructions given to them by the obstetrician caring for the mom and still give birth to a baby with a birth defect.

Couples who have no family history of birth defects and who may have other healthy children can still have a child with a birth defect.

According to the March of Dimes as many as 60% of all birth defects have no known cause so they cannot be predicted.

Chromosomal defects during the formation of egg or sperm can also cause birth defects such as Down syndrome.

Environmental causes of birth defects are when the mom-to-be is exposed to chemicals or diseases during her pregnancy or she abuses alcohol or takes certain medications that can cause birth defects.

There can also be multifactorial birth defects when more than one cause can be identified such as neural tube defects, cleft lip and palate.

In summary, birth defects can be attributed to defects in structure, function or body metabolism. Birth defects can occur to couples whom have no family history of birth defects and to those who even have other healthy children.

There are some birth defects in which there is no known cause. Alcohol abuse and certain medications may be causes for birth defects and some infections can also cause birth defects such as rubella - especially if exposure is early in the pregnancy.

Better Your Health

Types of Birth Defects Explained
▫  Birth Defect-- Cerebral Palsy
▫  Birth Defect--Cleft Lip-Palate
▫  Birth Defect--Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Phenylketonuria
▫  Birth Defect--Spina Bifida
▫  Birth Defects and the Fight to Prevent Them
▫  Exploring Common Birth Defects
▫  Fight Birth Defects With Good Nutrition
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