What are common birth defects?
A birth defect is a health condition that is present since birth. Birth defects may change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health. Below are the most common birth defects:
Congenital heart defects (CHD): This defect may affect different parts or functions of the heart. Defects may include holes in the wall of the heart, a heart that beats too quickly or too slowly, valve defects that prevent blood from flowing smoothly, or misplaced blood vessels that prevent the heart and circulatory system from functioning efficiently. Causes include genetic and environmental factors or sometimes side effects of certain drugs. Most heart defects can be corrected, or at least helped, by surgery, medicines, and devices such as pacemakers. There are prenatal tests that can detect many heart defects before birth. Medications and surgical interventions after birth have also improved the outlook for children with CHD significantly in the past 40 years.
Clubfoot: Clubfoot describes a range of foot and ankle abnormalities. The foot bones, ankle joint, and structures of the foot may be abnormal or tight, making it difficult to bring the foot into a normal position. Clubfoot is almost twice as likely to affect boys. Causes are yet to be established, but heredity and some environmental factors, such as smoking during pregnancy, are likely at the root of the defect. Without treatment, the poorly aligned foot and ankle can't move normally, resulting in an awkward gait and may even interfere with the growth of the entire leg.
Down syndrome: Down syndrome is a genetic disorder; it is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Symptoms include mental retardation and facial and health abnormalities such as impaired hearing, impaired vision, and heart defects. Mothers who are aged above 35 years are at a higher risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. Early intervention and special education may help babies with Down syndrome to grow up, attend school, and participate in a social life. Many patients live semi-independently in group homes, holding down jobs, and taking part in their communities.
Cerebral palsy: Congenital cerebral palsy is a condition with abnormal brain movement and posture. It is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. Cerebral palsy is generally not diagnosed until the child has reached 2 or 3 years. Symptoms include mental retardation, learning disabilities, or problems with vision, hearing, or speech. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatment options include physical therapy, speech therapy occupational therapy, drug therapies, and surgical procedures. Most children may significantly improve over time with proper treatment.
Spina bifida: Spina bifida is caused by neural tube defects. The neural tube is the part of the embryo that eventually develops into the brain and spinal cord. When something goes wrong in this process and the neural tube does not close properly, the spinal cord or vertebrae do not develop normally. Causes include genetic and environmental factors. A baby with the most severe form of spina bifida will usually require surgery within 48 hours of birth. Soon after surgery, physical therapy is initiated. Studies show that up to 70% of neural tube defects, including spina bifida, could be prevented if pregnant women consume adequate amounts of folic acid, especially in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Prenatal surgery to repair spina bifida birth defects is in the experimental phase.
Cleft lip: This defect might look alarming, but it can typically be corrected shortly after birth. Essentially, a cleft lip is when the baby is born with an opening at the lip, and the same thing can happen on the roof of the mouth; once corrected, the baby may lead a normal life.
Sickle cell disease or sickle cell anemia: This occurs when red blood cells do not carry enough oxygen throughout the body. This is often passed from generation to generation.
Fragile X syndrome: This is a chromosomal defect that is generally observed in male babies. Symptoms include a long face, large ears, flat feet, teeth clamped together, heart issues, or even slightly autistic symptoms.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): It is a group of mental and physical birth defects that occur because of excessive consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy. Children born with FAS are abnormally small at birth. They may have small eyes and an upturned nose. The heart may not have formed properly, and many children with this birth defect have a small or abnormally formed brain. Most have some degree of mental retardation. Children born with FAS may require psychological and behavioral counseling, special education to cope with their learning disabilities, and medical treatments throughout their lives.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are the Most Common Birth Defects? Related Articles
Amniocentesis TestDuring an amniocentesis, a sample of the amniotic fluid is taken to screen for certain birth defects (Down's syndrome, neural tube defects, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis), lung maturity of the fetus, infection, or chromosome analysis. Amniocentesis is recommended for women giving birth after the age of 35.
Birthmarks SlideshowBirthmarks can appear on the head, over the eye, or anywhere on the skin. To learn more about birthmarks explore this medical image gallery. Get information about birthmark pigmentation, color changes and health risks of birthmarks.
Breastfeeding (and Formula Feeding)It's important to know whether you will breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby prior to delivery, as the breasts' ability to produce milk diminishes soon after childbirth without the stimulation of breastfeeding. Breast milk is easily digested by babies and contains infection-fighting antibodies and cholesterol, which promotes brain growth. Formula-fed babies actually need to eat somewhat less often since formula is less readily digested by the baby than human milk. This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of feeding.
Can Clubfoot Be Fixed?Clubfoot is a fairly common congenital (present at birth) foot deformity. Approximately one infant in every 1,000 live births gets it. Clubfoot can be fixed if its treatment begins within the first week or two after birth.
folic acidFolic acid, folate, vitamin B9 is used for the treatment of folate deficiency and its complications, and for the treatment of folic acid deficiency associated with liver disease, kidney dialysis, ulcerative colitis, and alcoholism. Folic acid supplements also are taken by women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to prevent birth defects (neural tube defects such as spina bifida) and miscarriage. Rare cases of allergic or anaphylactoid reactions have occurred with taking folic acid. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
oxytocinOxytocin is a synthetic form of the natural human hormone oxytocin used to induce or improve uterine contractions during delivery and to prevent uncontrolled bleeding (hemorrhage) after the delivery. Common side effects of oxytocin include serious allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction), premature ventricular contractions, postpartum hemorrhage, pelvic hematoma, irregular heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmia), bleeding in the space between the brain and its membrane (subarachnoid hemorrhage), fatal afibrinogenemia, hypertensive episodes, nausea, vomiting, and rupture of the uterus. Oxytocin should not be used otherwise during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Pfeiffer SyndromePfeiffer syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, is characterized by craniosynostosis and other birth defects. There are three subtypes of Pfeiffer syndrome. People with type I usually have a normal lifespan and typical intelligence. Types II and II cause more severe birth defects that can affect brain development and function. Signs and symptoms of Pfeiffer syndrome include a high forehead, prominent lower jaw, protrusion of the eyes, beaked nose, and short fingers and toes.
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Assisted Ventilation of the Newborn?To provide a baby assisted ventilation, a mechanical ventilator pumps oxygen to the lungs at pressure until the baby’s respiratory system works normally. This can help kickstart the baby’s breathing reflex if it’s compromised by underdevelopment or some congenital condition, but it may also lead to lung trauma.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With Coffin-Siris Syndrome?Coffin-Siris syndrome (CSS) is a rare hereditary condition noticeable from birth (congenital). Most people with Coffin-Siris syndrome (CSS) live relatively long lives. The lifespan of affected individuals varies widely depending on the person’s level of physical and mental development and the severity of the illness. Medical care increases the quality of life and lifetime of people with CSS.
What Is Mandibular Distraction Osteogenesis?Distraction osteogenesis is also called callotasis, callus distraction or osteodistraction. It is a surgical technique performed in babies to increase the length of the jawbone (mandible). It is done in newborns with a small jaw (micrognathia), which causes breathing difficulty.