5 Most Common Birth Defects
What are Birth Defects?
Doctors define ‘Birth defects’ as functional, structural or metabolic abnormalities that a child faces when he/she is born. There are a wide range of birth defects which can vary from being serious to minor. However, over the years doctors have found ways to diagnose birth defects before the baby is born, which can help treat these defects. The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists said that three out of hundred babies in the United States are born with a birth defect of some sort. There are many different things that can lead to birth defects; the causes may include environment or genetics. Even taking medicines or alcohol abuse may give rise to birth defects.
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects are a category of cardiac disease which leads to abnormalities in the cardiovascular system. In United States at least 1 child out of 100 is born with this defect.
Causes and Risk Factors of Congenital Heart Defects
In most of the cases that are diagnosed, the precise causes of the birth defect remain largely unknown. However, there are some risk factors that can increase the likelihood of congenital heart defect. Generally speaking, taking certain medication, alcohol abuse, maternal infections and genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome increases the risk of suffering from this birth defect.
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects
The symptoms of this defect may appear at birth, during childhood or adulthood. However, there is a possibility that an individual would have the defect but no symptoms. Common symptoms include shortness of breath.
Types of Congenital Heart Defects
There are three common types of congenital heart defects.
- Heart valve defects can cause the valves to narrow down which hampers the blood flow throughout the body. Another problem can be leaky valves; these cause the blood to leak backwards since they cannot close properly.
- Heart muscle abnormalities are very defects which causes heart failure.
- A defect in the walls between the ventricles of the heart and atria is another defect. This defect can cause the oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood to blend.
Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects
The treatment for this particular birth defect depends on the severity of the defect. Some defects do not require any treatment and are not life threatening, in some cases the individual requires immediate surgery. Some medications are also prescribed for this defect.
One of the most common birth defects is clubfoot --- in United States, 1 out of every 1000 baby is born with this defect. In ‘clubfoot’, the foot of the child turns inwards and downwards - the severity of this defect may range from mild to severe.
Causes and Risk Factors of Clubfoot
Doctor’s have been unable to diagnose the underlying cause behind clubfoot. It has been found that baby boys are more likely to suffer from clubfoot. Moreover, genetics may also trigger this condition. It is possible that this defect may be passed on through the family. The risk increases if this defect has been in your family and if you are a male.
Symptoms of Clubfoot
This defect changes the physical appearance of the foot. It is possible that both feet might be affected. At birth; the foot of the child turns inward and downward, this makes it very difficult to get it back to the right position.
Treatment of Clubfoot
The most common treatment for this defect is using a cast to support it. It is advised that the treatment should be done as early in life as possible, this is because it’s generally easier to correct the position at an early age. Surgery is required for more severe cases. Surgery is required for more severe cases.
Down syndrome is another common birth defect; one out of every 800 children has this birth defect. This is genetic condition in which the child has 47 chromosomes rather than the 46 chromosomes.
Causes and Risk Factors of Down Syndrome
The main reason that causes this birth defect is because there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. The presence of an extra chromosome hampers the way the body and brain develops. Down syndrome can also cause many other birth defects such as Heart defects.
Symptoms of Down Syndrome
There are many different symptoms associated with this condition; the symptoms also depend on the severity of the defect. Some common symptoms include small ears, small mouth, short hands, short fingers, flattened nose and extra skin on the nape of the neck. There are many medical conditions which are also associated with this birth defect such as chronic constipation problems, eye problems and hip problem such as risk of dislocation.
Treatment of Down Syndrome
There is no specific treatment for this birth defect. However, treatments are required for the symptoms and other medical conditions that are caused by this condition. For example any heart defects might require surgery; obesity has to be taken care of.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are other common birth defects; these are facial malformations which occur when the fetus is developing. It involves a gap in this area. These conditions occur when there are no tissues in the lip and nose area. Even if there are tissues are available, they are unable to join properly.
Causes of Cleft Lip/Palate
The exact causes of cleft lip and cleft palate are still unknown. This condition cannot be prevented. However, scientists have linked this condition with environment and genetics. If someone in the family suffers from this condition, the chances of getting this defect increases. Another cause that has been linked with this condition is medication; some drugs can cause this birth defect.
Problems of Cleft Lip/Palate
The separation caused by the palates can lead to eating and drinking problems, since whatever liquid that is consumed can come back out from the nose. However, there are special bottles available which can help push the fluids downwards towards the stomach. Another problem is that individuals who have this defect are more vulnerable to ear infections. People with this birth defect may also have speech impairments.
Treatment of Cleft Lip/Palate
Cleft lip requires one or two surgeries depending on the severity of the condition. The initial surgery is performed at a young age. Children with this defect may also require a bone graft which helps fill the upper gum line in order to support the permanent teeth. Some children also go through speech therapies. After the surgeries are successful, the children require braces to ensure proper growth of teeth.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
This is a birth defect that is caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy. This syndrome includes mental retardation, learning disorders, behavioral problems and physical deformities. The problems that are caused by this condition differ from child to child. Up to 12,000 children in US are born with this condition. The baby is at risk of developing this syndrome even if he/she is exposed to small quantity of alcohol.
Causes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
During pregnancy when you drink alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and reaches the fetus. The fetus metabolizes alcohol with difficulty, which causes the baby’s blood alcohol level to rise. Alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen, developing tissue and organs.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
There are different symptoms that are associated with this condition such as Deformities of joints, Poor coordination, Learning disorders, heart defects, Distinctive facial features and abnormal behavior. The more you drink alcohol, the greater is the risk of this syndrome. Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.
Treatment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
There is no proper treatment for this syndrome. The physical and mental defects may persist throughout their life. Heart defects typically require surgeries and abnormal behavior would require proper counseling.