A glimpse into birth defects – How to prevent and cure them

A fragile new life may come with many problems, especially if those problems developed in the womb. Birth defects affect a significant section of newborns all across the world. It is estimated that in the United States, about 3 % of all babies are born with some form of birth defect or the other. While some of these may be about physical appearances like extra toes or a cleft lip, there are also those which affect the baby internally without having any outward symptoms. Let’s look at some common facts about birth defects.

Some details about birth defects

Congenital disabilities are an all-encompassing term used to include problems with newborns that may affect their.

  • Internal organs
  • Appearance
  • Mental development
  • Physical development

Birth defects usually occur within the first trimester, i.e., the first three months of the pregnancy. This is the time when the organs are still forming within the womb. The severity of the birth defects also varies widely with severe ones often resulting in death. In fact, about 20 percent of new born deaths are attributed to birth defects that affect the internal functioning of the body.


While much research has gone into this field and certain risk factors are known, it isn’t exactly what the exact causes are for certain birth defects to occur. Some of the more well-known causes for birth defects are as follows.

  • Infections that the expecting motheracquires during or before pregnancy which affects the development of the child.
  • Exposure to certain harmful chemicals ormedications during or before pregnancy.


  • 2where defects or health problems are passed down from parent to child.
  • Certain lifestyle choices such as smokingexcessive drinking or drug use before and during pregnancy.
  • A combination of the multiple factors mentioned above.
  • Mothers above the age of 35 are also at a higher risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects.
  • Mothers who have preexisting medical conditions such as a history of diabetes are also at a higher risk.

Types of birth defects and common example

  • Structural
  • Developmental or functional

When a body part is missing or is malformed in a newborn, it is categorized as a structural birth defect.

Some common examples of structural birth defects are:

Spina bifida

  • This is where a baby’s spine is malformed, or the spinal cord hasn’t developed properly.
  • Heart defects such as when the heart valves, walls or blood vessels have an abnormality after birth.

Club foot

  • This is a condition where the feet point inwards which requires surgical intervention to correct in order for the baby to walk.
  • Cleft palate or lip is one of the most common birth defects in newborns where the lip or the roof of the mouth is split, which also requires surgical intervention.

Some of the more common developmental of functional birth defects include.


Sickle Cell disease

  • A Disorder where the Red blood cells are misshapen.

Cystic fibrosis

  • A disorder which damages the digestive system and the lungs.

Down syndrome

  • A disorder where the mental and physical development is delayed.

It is thus an imperative for parents to get screened for any risks even before conception and to minimize risks to the baby through proper prenatal care.