Birth Defects: Causes, Types, and Prevention
Posted in Health & Wellness on January 12, 2022
January is designated as National Birth Defect Awareness Month. Every year, nearly 120,000 babies are born with a congenital disability. This month is dedicated to learning how to prevent birth defects before and during pregnancy and that children born with one can still maintain a full life.
What is a Birth Defect?
Birth defects can be defined as an abnormality to a newborn baby’s body, whether internally, externally, or a chemical imbalance. Each year, approximately 3% of babies in the United States are born with a birth defect.
Common Types of Birth Defects
While many types of congenital disabilities can be found in newborn babies, the most common include:
- Heart Defects
- Structural inconsistencies that are located within a newborn’s heart. Heart defects can be minor and not require treatment, while others may be more serious and require surgery.
- Spina Bifida
- Known as a neural tube defect, Spina Bifida is a condition that impacts a newborn’s spine.
- Muscular Dystrophies
- Muscular diseases at birth include weak muscles, degeneration, fixed joints, and potential motor milestone delays.
- Down Syndrome
- A baby born with Down Syndrome has an extra chromosome 21. This impacts how the baby develops during and after pregnancy creating potential physical and mental challenges.
Causes of Birth Defects
- Smoking or Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy
- Contracting an Infection
Prevention of Birth Defects
While congenital disabilities may be unavoidable, some steps can be taken to prevent them.
- Follow Proper Prenatal Care
- Avoid Harmful Substances
- Maintain Open Communication with a Doctor
- Be Aware of Past and Current Health Conditions
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Learn more about National Birth Defect Awareness Month.