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Birth Defects: Causes, Types and Treatment

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Kingsley Felix
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A birth defect is one of the problems associated with pregnancy. This often occurs when the baby is in the formative stage during pregnancy. It means that it can happen in the womb and that is when the baby was still in the uterus.

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The defect can be severe, and it can be minor. There is an indication that one out of thirty-three children born in the US suffers from this condition.

It can appear in different forms and you can notice that in the baby appearance, mental as well as physical development. It can also manifest in the organ function.

It would always occur during the first three months of pregnancy. This is the time the organ is at the formative stage. While some of these defects can be harmless, others can be very harmful.

When it is harmful it would demand long time treatment. In the US, this problem is one of the causes of infant deaths in the country.

What are the causes of birth defects?

Several factors are responsible for this problem. The most common causes are

  • Genetic factors
  • Lifestyle and behaviors
  • Medications and dangerous chemicals
  • Pregnancy infections

Combination of some of these factors, these are some of the causes. This means that there are no exact causes of the problem.

Genetic factors

This can result from the mother or the father. It can happen when either of the parents passes on genetic abnormalities to their unborn kids. When there is a gene problem as a result of mutation, it can be transferred to the baby.

There are instances where the gene parts can be missing. When this becomes the case, it can lead to birth defection and nothing can be done to prevent it. There could be instances where such defects are present in the family. This means that it would be a recurring issue.

Furthermore, when any of the parents engage in smoking. Other illegal behaviors that can lead to that include the use of drugs. Drinking of alcohol can become a risk factor. Other factors such as exposure to viruses and toxic chemicals can actually cause that problem. There could be other causes of that problem.

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If the family has a history of that, then it is certain that it would keep recurring because it is a family problem. Furthermore, when there is inadequate prenatal care, it can result in that problem.

When mothers are passing the maternal age and when they reach the age of 35 years or when they are more than that, it can lead to a birth defect.

Moreover, if there are untreated bacterial or viral infections, it can lead to a problem. If parents are suffering from sexually transmitted diseases, the unborn child can get infected and this can lead to defects.

Furthermore, when parents engage in high-risk medication such as lithium and isotretinoin, it can cause that problem among unborn babies. Furthermore, when mothers suffer pre-existing medical condition like diabetes, an unborn child could become defect at the time of birth.

Types of birth defects

Birth Defects

Usually, birth defects are classified into three and they include developmental, functional as well as structural.

When it is structural it means that a specific part of the body is missing or that it is malfunctioned. Here are some type of structural defects and they include the following:

  • Heart defects
  • Palate or cleft lip
  • Spina bifida
  • Clubfoot.
  • Functional defects

Functional or developmental birth defects occur when the system or the body part is not functioning the way it should be. This is associated with disabilities or poor intelligence development. Examples of such defects are the following:

  • Sensory problems
  • Metabolic defects
  • Nervous system defects

The most common types of these defects are the following:

In some cases, children are challenged with some physical problems and this can manifest with certain birth defects.

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However, such does not result in any physical abnormality. There are instances where such defects are not noticed for years or months after the child’s birth.

Diagnoses of birth defects

Birth defects can be diagnosed and that has to be carried out during pregnancy. The best way to do that is to subject the mother to a series of ultrasound tests. When there are defects, it can be diagnosed in the uterus.

Apart from that, such tests and screenings are done to diagnose the problem. Some of the tests that are conducted include blood tests as well as amniocentesis. This involves taking the samples of the amniotic fluid and testing it.

The tests are often administered on women are at higher risks. If it is part of the family that there are birth defects, such women can be subjected to such tests to determine any defects early enough.

Furthermore, when the mother has reached an advanced maternal age or suffering of any of the risk factors, then such tests can be carried out to know the best way to prevent it from happening with the unborn child.

Prenatal tests are often conducted on the mother to know whether she is suffering from any of those factors that cause that problem.

Furthermore, mothers are often subjected to a series of medical examinations during pregnancy as well as hearing tests to know whether there is any problem with the kid in the womb.

When there are such tests, it would be possible to determine whether such an unborn baby can be diagnosed with any defect. Everything can be done to ensure that they are detected on time and anything can be done to prevent it from happening.

How is birth defect treated?

There are ways of treating that condition and the treating option often depends on the severity of that problem. The best form of treatment includes medications. When it is minor medications can be used to address that problem.

Surgeries

If the problem cannot be solved through medications, then it can be treated through a surgical procedure. Plastic surgeries can be used to remedy some of the defects. Some of them like heart defects, hips defect and so on can be treated using plastic surgery procedure.

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Birth defects can also be prevented. The best way to prevent it is to avoid those things that are known to cause that problem. Prevention is better and easier than a cure.

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