Everything about Birth Defects: Types, Causes, & Prevention
Birth defects occur when a child is born with a problem that affects their body or mind. These problems are usually caused by something going wrong early on in the pregnancy, before the 20th week. A birth defect can be small or large and impact just one body part or multiple functions.
Some kids may need to spend time in the hospital after being born with a condition, but others will lead normal lives with no long-term effects. The CDC estimates that about one in every 10 babies born in the U.S. has a major birth defect each year. Birth defects can be difficult for parents and family members to accept and understand, which is why it’s important to know more about them so you can support your loved ones who have them.
What are the Types of Birth Defects?
There are two main classes of birth defects: structural and functional. Structural birth defects are caused by abnormal development of an organ, tissue, or bone, while functional defects are caused by problems with the way the organ or tissue works.
Structural defects are further classified by what part of the body is affected: Skin, bones, muscles, and blood vessels: These cover most of the body and are involved in all other types of defects. Blood: Disorders of blood formation or function, such as anemia, thalassemia, and sickle cell disease, can cause red blood cells to be abnormal.
Kidneys and the urinary tract: Structural birth defects that affect the kidneys or urinary tract can lead to infection, kidney failure, or kidney stones.
What Causes Birth Defects?
There are two main factors that cause birth defects: Genetics and environment. Defects can be caused by genetic mutations or abnormalities in the chromosomes that are passed from parent to child, as well as by exposure to harmful substances in the environment. Most defects are not inherited, which means that they are not caused by genetics.
Some defects can be caused by a combination of genetics and the environment, but many are caused by one or the other. It’s possible for a child to have a birth defect and not have any genetic abnormalities. In some cases, the cause of a defect is still unknown.
What are the Most Common Birth Defects?
Some birth defects are more common than others. Here are some of the most common birth defects you should be aware of: –
Anencephaly: This is a condition in which a child is born without a portion of their brain.
Neural tube defects: These are caused by a problem in the early development of the brain, spine, or spinal cord.
Hemophilia: This is a bleeding disorder caused by a defect in a person’s genes. – Spina bifida: This occurs when the spinal cord doesn’t close properly while a baby is developing in the womb.
Cleft lip: This birth defect occurs when a cleft (a split) forms in the lip or in the roof of the mouth.
Heart defects: There are many types of heart defects. They affect how the heart functions.
Cystic fibrosis: This is a genetic disorder that causes the body to produce unusually thick mucus that can become clogged and hard in the lungs and digestive system.
How Can We Prevent Birth Defects?
There are ways to prevent many types of birth defects, but the best way is to get pregnant as soon as possible. Getting pregnant younger and limiting your exposure to harmful substances are both good ways to prevent birth defects.
Other methods include taking vitamin supplements, taking care of your health, and avoiding certain risky behaviors. If you or someone you know has already been affected by a birth defect, there is help available. In addition to support groups and counseling, there are organizations that provide financial assistance to families with a child who has a birth defect.
Conclusion: How to Avoid Birth Defects During Pregnancy
Birth defects can be difficult to understand and accept. However, they can also be overcome. People affected by birth defects deserve our support, and it is important to understand the various types of birth defects so that we can provide this support.