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Birth defects facts*
*Birth defects facts by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOE
- Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present at birth that cause physical or mental disability. They are the leading cause of death for infants during the first year of life.
- Birth defects may be caused by genetic problems, problems with chromosomes, or environmental factors.
- Structural birth defects are related to a problem with body parts such as cleft lip or cleft palate, heart defects such as missing or misshaped valves, abnormal limbs such as a club foot, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Functional birth defects are related to a problem with how a body part or body system works. These problems often lead to developmental disabilities and can include things such as nervous system or brain problems, sensory problems, metabolic disorders, and degenerative disorders.
- Treatments for birth defects vary by disorder.
What are birth defects?
Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present at birth that cause physical or mental disability. Some may be fatal.
Researchers have identified thousands of different birth defects. Currently, birth defects are the leading cause of death for infants during the first year of life.
What causes birth defects?
Birth defects have a variety of causes, such as:
Genetic problems caused when one or more genes doesn't work properly or part of a gene is missing
Problems with chromosomes, such as having an extra chromosome or missing part of a chromosome