Understanding Birth Defects

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  • 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.
  • Cerebral palsy can result from an injury to the cerebrum (largest area of brain). Some children acquire cerebral palsy after an illness as a small child; such as bacterial meningitis. Some children develop cerebral palsy after a head injury. Head injuries can also be received during the birthing process and cerebral palsy result. It is believed that only a small number of cases of cerebral palsy actually are attributed to problems at birth or related to fetal injury.
  • A submucous cleft palate is usually hidden and may not be noticed right away. If a baby has difficulty feeding, including nasal regurgitation and excessive gassiness, the parents should seek medical attention to discover the cause as it may be submucous cleft palate. Speech delays and a nasal-sounding voice as well as increased nasal discharge may also be symptoms of a submucous cleft palate that should have medical attention.
  • When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it enters her bloodstream, crosses over through the placenta into the baby's bloodstream. The unborn baby has a much slower metabolism than its mom and thus the alcohol concentrations are higher. The alcohol will impair the optimal nutrition for the baby's developing tissues and organs and can even damage brain cells. The risk increases the more alcohol the mom consumes. Impairment to the developing baby includes facial features, organs including the heart, bones, the central nervous system and the brain.
  • A physician or other healthcare professional may suspect hypoplastic left heart syndrome, if the baby is gray or bluish in skin color or has difficulty breathing or if the medical professional hears a heart murmur. An echocardiogram will be performed to help make the diagnosis. This test will reveal the smaller than normal left ventricle and aorta and also track the blood flow from right ventricle into the aorta. Other heart defects can also be detected by the echocardiogram.
  • A single mutated gene causes PKU. This mutated gene is suppose to carry instructions for making the enzyme needed to process amino acid (phenylalanine). Those who have PKU are missing this gene or have a defective gene. Without this gene to process phenylalanine, a dangerous level of phenylalanine can build up in the body when the person with PKU eats foods that are high in protein such as milk, cheese, nuts or meats. Serious health problems can result when a person with PKU consumes these foods high in protein. A person can have the defective gene but not have the disorder, this is called being a carrier. In order for a baby to have PKU, both parents must have the defective or missing gene.
  • Myelomeningocele (open spina bifida): This is the most severe form of spina bifida. The spinal cord is usually left open along several vertebrae with both membrane and spinal cord protruding at birth. The protruding membrane and spinal cord usually form a sac on the baby's back. Sometimes skin covers this sac. Sometimes tissues and nerves are exposed, making the baby susceptible to life-threatening infections. This type of spina bifida usually entails paralysis or loss of movement, bladder problems, seizures and other medical complications.
  • There is much that can be done to help prevent birth defects. No one likes to see babies suffer or die from birth defects that could have been prevented. Education is one key to helping moms prepare before becoming pregnant and also to do what ever is necessary during pregnancy to have a healthy baby. There are many books, Websites and organizations available to help moms and moms-to-be to prepare for a healthy baby free of birth defects. Another key to fighting birth defects is proper prenatal care, this means providing medical care for all pregnant women and providing the means to receive proper nutrition during pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
  • There are certain birth defects that are more common than others they include: cerebral palsy, cleft lip/palate, clubfoot, congenital hip dislocation, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis (CF), down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), heart defects, muscular dystrophy (MS), neural tube defects (NTDs), phenylketonuria (PKU), sickle cell anemia, and tay-sachs disease.
  • The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers have discovered that there is a connection between what pregnant women eat and how their genetic makeup is designed. This information is important because a personalized menu during pregnancy that is designed to be compatible with a pregnant woman's genetic makeup may benefit her unborn baby and help prevent birth defects. Genes and diet interact to cause birth defects, according to the university's research.

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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