A birth defect, also called congenital disorder, is a complication or problem that happens to a baby while it is still developing in the uterus or mother’s womb. Babies born with birth defects have problems with the formation of their organs and body parts and the way their bodies function. It may result to disabilities which may be physical, intellectual or developmental and it can be mild or severe. It is the main cause of infant mortality worldwide, and affected children who survive infancy, often struggle with lifelong physical and mental disabilities.
Majority of birth defects happen during the first trimester (3 months) of pregnancy. Research has it that approximately 150,000 children are born every year in the United States with one or more birth defects. Birth defects are classified into two types; structural disorder and functional disorder. Structural disorder is an abnormality in the development of body parts of a baby such as cleft lips (when the lips does not form properly), abnormal limbs like club foot, heart defects and so on. They are visibly noticed at birth. On the other hand, functional disorder is an abnormality in the body system; that is abnormality in how the systems of the body work, like the immune system, respiratory system, neurological system, etc. These abnormalities can take months or years to detect, unlike structural disorder.
Some experts say the cause of over 60% birth defects is not known but some known causes include smoking, herbal and self-medication, age, exposure to toxin, excess alcohol intake, infection, disease, nutritional deficiency, environment, inadequate folic acids and occupational exposure. It can also be genetic. Since not all causes of birth defects are known, the following are so things you can do to increase the possibility of having a healthy baby and reduce the risk of birth defects.
Before pregnancy, make sure you are vaccinated up-to-date; be sure you don’t have any infection, and treat all sexually transmitted or other infectious diseases. Avoid unnecessary drugs or talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking or thinking of taking. Meet with a genetic counselor if you have a family history of birth defects. Also, avoid caffeine consumption; control any pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and seizures, and take a daily multivitamin that has 400 milligrams of folic acid.
During pregnancy, you should take your routine drugs especially folic acid, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise moderately and get enough rest. Also, get early and regular antenatal care, avoid contact with poisonous fumes and chemicals at home or at work such as paint, lead, pesticides and solvents. Limit outdoor activities on days when the weather is very hot and the quality of air poor. Learn how to prevent infections during pregnancy and always discuss your concerns with your health adviser or physician.
Sourced from Women’s Mirror……