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Birth Defects – Types , Causes and Prevention

29 August, 2020 Pooja Kumari


Birth defect, also known as the congenital disorder is a defect that occurs while the baby is developing in the mother’s womb. Most of the birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Out of every 33 babies, 1 baby is born with birth defects in the United States. Birth defects include effects that may change the appearance of the body or the work of the body. Birth defects like cleft lip or neuro tube defects can be easily seen. While the defects like heart disorders or hearing problems which we cannot see, the doctors use special tests to find out this.

Birth defects can be either mild or severe and also some birth defects are caused due exposure toward chemicals. Some birth defects are life-threatening in which baby lives for few months only. Infections during pregnancy can also cause congenital disorder or birth defect. There are several causes which can lead to birth defect but still for most of the birth defects the cause is unknown. Some birth defects can be prevented while some cannot. In some cases, doctors diagnose the baby inside the womb which helps to correct the defect even before the baby is born. 

Two Major Types Of Birth Defects

i.Structural birth defects: These are those birth defects that occur when a specific part of a body is missing or has formed incorrectly.

ii.Functional or Developmental birth defects: It refers to those defects in which the functioning of the body part has some problems. This can be a disability also.

Most Common Birth Defects

  • Heart defects: Heart defect is a structural problem that develops during pregnancy and 1 baby out of 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect.
  • Cleft lip: Cleft lip is a separation of the upper lip that is visible and it can be unilateral or bilateral.
  • Down syndrome: It is a genetic syndrome when the child born with an extra chromosome and the extra chromosome affects the development of the brain and body.
  • Spina bifida: This term means split spine which occurs when the brain, spinal cord, or the covering membranes which cover them are not completely developed.

Causes Of Birth Defect

The first 3 months of pregnancy is very important since the organs of the baby develop within these three months. Most of the birth defects are caused during these 3 months. The causes of many birth defects have to remain unfolded. People also suppose that there are complex factors behind the congenital disorder.

Here are some causes which can increase the chances of this disorder in baby, which are also called birth defect:-

  • Alcohol’s exposure or smoking: Mother’s consumption of alcohol or smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects in babies such as heart disease, brain abnormalities, brain damage, or intellectual disability.
  • Obesity or Diabetes: Being excessive overweight or having uncontrollable diabetes during pregnancy or before pregnancy can also be the risk factor for birth defects.
  • Toxic substances: Toxic substances like teratogens cause congenital disorders. In general, 10% of the birth defects are caused by excessive exposure toward teratogenic agents.
  • Medications and supplements: Certain medications and supplements such as acne drug, can also be responsible for birth defects.
  • Older mother: Pregnancy after the age of 34 years can also trigger birth defects.
  • Genetics: If the mother or the father of the child has already a birth defect then chances are there that the child may have a congenital disorder.
  • Infection: Infection from the mother’s embryo can be vertically transferred to the baby and can lead to birth defects.

Prevention Of Birth Defect

  • Intake of 400 grams of folic acid per day at least one month before getting pregnant can reduce the risk of birth defects or congenital disorder.

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  • Make sure that you see your health care provider on a regular basis, and start prenatal care as soon as you become pregnant.
  • Don’t consume alcohol and don’t smoke
  • Prevent the chances of infection during pregnancy
  • If you are already taking any medications or supplements then tell your healthcare provider and ask for advice.
  • If a doctor has prescribed any drugs then make sure you are taking them on time. Order prescribed drugs online, at 3MEDS, and get them delivered at your doorstep in your hard times.
  • Keep some medical conditions under control such as obesity or diabetes.
  • Do not start or leave any medicine without the doctor’s advice.


There are some cases of birth defect which cannot be prevented and if in any case the baby is born with the birth defects that the baby needs special care and emotion. As the baby will grow up he or she may feel alienated among other children. They need your special care and if you see any child with these defects or disorder, never make them feel abnormal, treat them with love and care.