defects are abnormalities, which occur before the birth of the baby and can be
caused due to genetic, environmental and other unknown reasons.
defects can cause a setback in mental and physical abilities, and can result in
anomalies in the structure, function or metabolism of the body. Birth defects
are blamed for being the leading cause of death among babies during their first
year of life.
are nearly 4000 different types of birth defects ranging from minor to severe
and may need medical treatment or surgery depend upon the extent of the defect.
The risk of birth defects is elevated in the presence of certain genetic and
environmental factors. For instance, exposure to radiation, alcohol, intake of
certain drugs, hereditary disorders, infections in the mother, nutritional
deficiencies, and injuries can increase the risk of birth defects in children.
the pregnancy, the embryo/ fetus faces the threat of infection from a variety
of microorganisms. The mother's immune system successfully combats some of
these episodes. In some cases, it results in either an abortion or stillbirth.
In certain other situations, it causes growth retardation and congenital
infections can also cause birth defects, depending upon the age of the fetus. When
a mother gets an infection before or during the pregnancy, it can lead to birth
defects in the child. Infections which can give rise to birth defects in the
child are rubella (German measles), toxoplasmosis, Venezuelan equine
encephalitis, cytomegalovirus (CMV), syphilis, and parvovirus. Of all the
infections, rubella during early pregnancy can cause the highest risk of birth
defects. Chicken pox can also be a potential source of birth defects, although
it is extremely rare.
time, a woman having an infection may be unaware of it as most of the time it
is asymptomatic in adults.
Can birth defects be avoided? Not all birth defects can be avoided.
Expectant mothers can offset some of the risks of birth defects caused due to
nutritional deficiencies or environmental conditions.