Causes of Birth Defects

Let us take a look at the causes of birth defects. Birth defects are a common disorder that happens while a baby develops in the mother’s body.

Many things have been attributed to this problem. This defect isn’t a rare thing as it is reported that 1 in every 33 neonates given birth to in the US is born with a birth defect.

The defect affects the physical characteristic of the baby as it may affect the body composition and how it appears.

A cleft lip is an example of a common congenital disability that is common in the society today. Also, there are defects such as heart diseases found while conducting some tests.

Birth defects can range from mild to chronic ones, depending on the diagnosis of the medical personnel.

Causes of birth defect

In this piece, we’ve compiled some causes of birth defects in the neonate. Please read on to find out more!

Infection during Pregnancy 

One of the major causes of birth defects is infection during pregnancy. Mild infections that wouldn’t even cause any infections in an adult could result in birth-defect causing infections during pregnancy.

You should watch out for any type of infection when you’re pregnant because it could lead to many undesirable things if left untreated.

Even if the infection doesn’t cause loss of pregnancy or stillbirth, it can still result in low birth weight and dysfunction of vital organs in the body.

This means early detection is your best shot at dealing with infection during pregnancy. Also, you can take a couple of steps to avoid infection when expecting a baby; you can go for vaccination and other recommended measures by your physician.

Genetic makeup 

Another factor that could contribute to birth defects is the genetic makeup of both parents. Say, for example, the mother is a carrier of a particular disorder, and the same goes for the father, too, then the possibility of the neonate expressing the condition is pretty high.

When you’re a carrier of a particular illness, you won’t express it, and you also won’t know this except you get screened for that particular disorder.

But in a situation, your spouse is a also a carrier of the same disorder, that’s why the trouble lies.

So it’s always advisable for expecting mothers to get screened for a couple of disorders to know their status.

If they’re carriers of some conditions, they get treated and place of maximum care to save the baby from developing such illness.

Lifestyle choices and behaviours 

You also need to know that lifestyle choices are a factor that must be carefully looked into if you’re a pregnant woman.

There have been many reports on the disadvantages of smoking while pregnant, and sadly, many expecting mothers are into this.

Excessive smoking increases the chances of abnormalities in newly born babies. According to many researchers, tens of hundred babies are born with one defect or the other as a result of their mother’s smoking lifestyle.

Surprisingly, there’s a report online that the more an expecting mother smokes, the smaller the baby becomes, which ensures ease of delivery.

This is not only a baseless report but an attempt to ruin the quality of life the unborn generation will have.

When you smoke excessively when pregnant, you’re stylishly threatening the lives of the unborn generation.

Excessive smoking can result in deformed limbs and facial malformation in babies and to the smoking mother, you’re reducing the chances of your easy delivery without you even knowing.

Exposure to certain drugs 

You also need to be careful of medication if you’re an expecting mother. It’s said that more than 50% of ladies take prescription or non-prescription drugs or use social drugs when they are pregnant.

This actually increases the risk of the baby developing some form of abnormalities if not taken care of.

You must avoid all kinds of drugs when you’re pregnant, except if the physician recommends it for you. If used, drugs can result in irreparable damages to the fetus.

A recent report even corroborates that about 3% of the drugs taken resulted in a disorder in the neonate. Hence, it’s in the best interest of any expecting mother to avoid using drugs indiscriminately.

Lack of certain nutrients 

When a pregnant woman lacks essential nutrients in the body, the chances of having child defects increase.

This is because pregnancy is a critical period in which women need to always consume a balanced diet – food rich in necessary nutrients.

Specifically, there’s a need for the expecting mother to take in as many as possible vitamins to supplement the ever-in-use ones in the system. This way, there’s maximum support for the developing fetus.

In addition to adequate weight gain during pregnancy, eating healthy meals also ensures free delivery with no complications.

Final Thoughts 

Birth defects are conditions caused as a result of genetic and environmental factors or a combination of both.

The disorder caused may be life-threatening or mild in nature depending on the causative factor and the resultant illness.

Lowering the chances of having birth defects is a must-do activity for every expecting mother. A pregnant woman should stay healthy at all times by ensuring adequate consumption of food- enough quality and quantity.

As a woman who’s old enough to conceive, you’ve got to always be on alert to know as soon as possible once you’re pregnant.

This way, you’ll be able to watch your diet as this first semester is always a very critical stage in the development of a child. If taken care of well, birth defects’ risks are reduced to the barest minimum.

Frequently Asked Questions on Causes of Birth Defects 

Below are a couple of frequently asked questions on causes of birth defects:

What are the most common birth defects?

There are many birth defects in existence with heart defects; cleft lip and palate are the commonest ones. Other defects are spinal muscular atrophy, turner syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and many more.

What defects can be detected before birth?   

Despite the fact that many birth defects are only known when the expecting mother finally gives birth, there are also ones that can be detected even before the child’s birth.

Some of such conditions include hemophilia A, cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney diseases, sickle cell disease and a couple of others.

What trimester do most birth defects occur?   

You should take good care of your health throughout the pregnancy period as an expecting mother, as birth defects can occur in any of the trimesters.

But it’s very common within the first trimester as the development of the child takes place at this stage.

In the first three months of pregnancy, it’s reported the development of vital organs and all parts are taking place at this level.

So consuming the necessary protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates are critical to a safe and healthy delivery. Also, the defects can also be noticed in the last part of the pregnancy.

How do I know my fetus is doing well?  

With the use of an ultrasound scan, which is a device that uses high-frequency sound waves to make images of the internal organs in the body, you’ll get to know how well your fetus is doing. The screening helps check the fetal growth if it’s normal and estimates your due date.

You can go for an ultrasound scan any time within the pregnancy period to know the status of the fetus and all organs in the body.

Can one prevent birth defects? 

There are a couple of ways you can protect your neonates from having any defects, but total prevention of birth defects is impossible.

All thanks to the advent of technology, there are ways through which birth defects or any fetal conditions can be treated now.

The healthcare sector has been revolutionized with technological advancement. Affect babies can now survive and lead qualities lives thereafter.


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