Birth Defect - List of Common Birth Defects

One of the biggest worries an expectant parent has is that there is or will be something wrong with their baby. The good news is that statistically most babies are born healthy and without any problems. Due to advancements in medical technology, babies who do have a type of birth defect can be treated and often lead a normal and happy life.

The chance of having a baby that meets the criteria of a medical birth defect definition is between two and three percent in developed nations. Every parent is at equal risk of having a child with a birth defect, also called a congenital malformation or congenital anomaly, regardless of income, residence, age or race.

Types of Birth Defects

The list of birth defects can be extensive but the most common ones are associated with the development of the heart, limb defects or development of the spinal cord. Other types of birth defects are associated with the development of the intestines, stomach or sexual organs. Some defects can affect the development of the face. Three in every 2000 babies can have Down's syndrome which is caused by chromosomal problems and is considered by many to be a birth defect.

The most common form of birth defects are those associated with heart abnormalities. They usually include a hole in the heart that affects the heart's ability to perform as it should. While these types of problems, like many defects, start in the embryonic stage, heart problems are often not caught until after birth. Sometimes an ultrasound can indicate a heart problem and cutting-edge technology allows for in utero heart surgery on some babies. Surgery is always required to fix a heart problem.

Limb and facial defects like a club foot or cleft lip can be fixed with plastic surgery. Missing or extra fingers or toes are typically not treated since a person can still function well with this type of birth defect.

Problems in the development of the spinal cord, like spina bifida, will likely cause a challenge for the baby into adulthood. The malformation can be closed at birth, but it doesn't restore function to the damaged part of the spinal cord. It's caused when the neural tube doesn't close at it should when the baby is still an embryo at around 28 days after fertilization.

Birth Defect Causes

There are two known causes of birth defects: genetics and environmental factors although the exact cause of an anomaly can't be determined in more than half the cases of defects.

Genetics cause approximately 25 percent of known defects. This doesn't mean that the parents have the condition themselves. But it does mean that the parents are carriers of the condition. Environmental factors, like exposure to radiation, drugs and illnesses, have been specifically related to approximately 10 percent of known congenital malformations. Some studies indicate that environmental factors such as certain drug use in men can affect the chance of a baby being born with a birth defect as much as drugs and medication taken by a pregnant woman. The drug Avodart, for example, is said to potentially cause malformations. Avodart is used to treat an enlarged prostate in a man by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. A possible Avodart birth defect could cause abnormal sex organ development.

Accutane is used to treat severe acne and shouldn't be used by pregnant women. Accutane birth defect photos show that the medication can cause facial malformations, missing earlobes or visual problems. The medication has also been associated with causing mental retardation, deafness or hearing problems, heart defects and problems with the glandular and central nervous systems.

If you discover that you're having a child with an abnormality, it's important not to dwell too much on the birth defect pictures. There will be challenges and it's important to know what's going on, but it's equally important not to dwell on the what-ifs too much and try to focus on the positive.


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