Birth Defects of the Baby & Solution

 Birth defects of the baby


Introduction:

Diagnosing, preventing and resolving birth defects is a major challenge for the physician in any pregnancy. About three out of every 100 newborns may have a major birth defect. Today we will discuss about the types and diagnosis of birth defects.


Structural disability includes various organ structural problems, such as –

(1) Structural defects of hands and feet
These defects are of various types, such as polydactyly, syndactyly, aplasia or dysplasia of limbs.



(2) Cardiac problems
Cardiac problems include heart valve problems or a hole in the diaphragm. The image shows a healthy heart valve and a problem heart valve –



(3) Different types of nerve abnormalities
Different types of neurological abnormalities include anencephali (incomplete skull), microcephali, spina bifida, hydrocephali (fluid accumulation in the brain).

Functional disability also has different types, such as-

(1) Chromosomal
Chromosomal disorders include down syndrome and thalassemia .

(2) Metabolic
Metabolic disorders include  hypothyroidism and phenylketonuria.


Causes:

1) Certain Drugs:

There are many pregnant mothers who are afraid to take any medicine during this time. But the comforting thing is that there is no problem in taking the right medicine as prescribed by a specialist doctor, as most of the medicines are safe. Medicines harmful to the baby are pregnancy category C/D. Again the degree of damage depends on the time when the medicine is taken. Usually, the level of damage is very high in the first three months of pregnancy, so during this time, no medicine should be taken without consulting a doctor. It should be noted that one should be careful in taking vitamin medicine. For example, Retinoic acid/Vitamin A harms the fetus, while deficiency of some vitamins (such as folic acid) increases the chance of birth defects.

2. Infection or bacterial infection

Bacterial infection during pregnancy is a major cause of birth defects. Various harmful germs are Measels, Rubella, Toxoplasmosis, Cytomegalovirus, Zika virus etc. The attack of these germs causes damage to the various organs of the unborn child, leading to intellectual disability. Like medicine, the harm of this bacterium also depends on when it infects the pregnant mother.

3. Toxic substances
Environmental pollutants and various waterborne toxic substances cause many other pregnancy complications apart from fetal abnormalities. These toxins include carbon monoxide, nitrates, nitrites, lead, fluoride, etc.

4. Smoking/alcohol


The harmful effects of smoking/alcohol in pregnancy are many. In developed countries there are many programs and counseling centers to prevent this practice before conception. Incidentally, children of fathers who smoke have an increased risk of birth defects and some childhood cancers (leukemia, brain tumors). This is because smoking causes DNA mutations in them, which are transmitted to unborn children.

5. Genetics and chromosomes
Genetic and chromosomal factors play a major role in the normal formation of the child. These abnormalities are transmitted from the parents to the fetus, and can sometimes be reborn in the fetus. Also, the structure of the fetus can be changed due to radiation at an older age of the parents.



When these problem can identified?
Usually each problem is understood separately. Some problems appear after birth, such as short or long fingers and toes, cleft palate or lip, incomplete skull, etc. Some problems are diagnosed as the child grows or matures, such as cardiac or renal abnormalities , physical and mental developmental problems in the child, genetic or chromosomal problems ( thalassemia, hemophilia ).


Is prenatal diagnosis possible?
Risk assessment and remedial measures can be taken through history before conception. In this case, “high-risk” mothers are those who-

  • Have children with one or more defects before.
  • Suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, hypo/hyperthyroidism or epilepsy.
  • Taking different types of medicines, which are harmful to the baby.
  • Addicted to alcohol or smoking.
  • Mother's age is more than 35, etc.

Besides, there are modern diagnostic systems that can diagnose some problems before birth.

Many abnormalities or risks of the nervous system can be understood in the first three months of the fetus through high-resolution ultrasonograms, such as Anencephaly, increase nuchal thickness etc.

A 20 to 24-week ultrasonogram can reveal most of the baby's cardiac, renal, bone/skeletal, digestive system, and other defects. So any pregnant mothers are given an anomaly scan at this time.


Remedies:

  • If the parents have any genetic problems Consult with doctor before conception
  • Folic acid should be taken regularly as advised by the doctor.
  • Avoid taking medicine without prescription.
  • Prevent environmental pollution.
  • Taking anti-infection vaccine (Rubella vaccine).
  • Marriage between close relatives should be avoided as much as possible.
  • If the mother's age is more than 35, be aware of this.


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