Hereditary Birth Defects

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important to be aware about the possibilities of having a child with a birth defect. Though discussing birth defects can be very upsetting, having the proper knowledge could help to prevent your baby from developing one. Many birth defects are actually hereditary in nature. This means that you or your partner could possibly pass along a genetic disorder. This article will outline some of the more common hereditary birth defects and ways that you can prevent passing them to your child.

What are Birth Defects?
Birth defects are defined as abnormalities of the structure or function of a baby at birth. Some birth defects can cause physical abnormalities, while others can cause mental or developmental delays. Birth defects can be passed on through a family or they can result from environmental hazards or certain infections. There are over 4,000 known birth defects and every year 150,000 babies in the United States are affected. Unfortunately, many birth defects cause emotional and physical hardship, and some can be fatal.

Hereditary Birth Defects
Hereditary birth defects are those disorders passed down to a child by its parents. Your baby has 46 chromosomes, which carry his genes and DNA. These chromosomes dictate what your baby will look like and how he will function. 23 of your baby�s chromosomes come from your egg, while the other 23 come from your partner�s sperm. However, if you or your partner has a defective or missing chromosome, a chromosomal abnormality could be passed on to your baby. This could result in a genetic birth defect. It is though that up to 20% of all birth defects are hereditary in nature.

How are Hereditary Birth Defects Passed Down?
There are a number of different ways that a hereditary birth defect can be passed on to your child. Some birth defects are passed on to a child by the mother, while others are passed along through the father. Some other disorders are passed on by both parents. There are three main ways of inheriting a birth defect:


    Dominant Inheritance:
    Some genetic defects are passed to a child through a process called dominant inheritance. This means that only one parent needs to have the genetic defect in order to pass it along to the child. Marfan Syndrome and Achondroplasia are dominant inheritance birth defects.


    Table of Contents
    1. Hereditary Birth Defects
    2. Will I pass on a birth defect?
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