A birth defect also known as a congenital disorder is a problem that occurs to a baby while developing in the uterus or mother’s womb.
Birth defects can be minor or severe. Most birth disorders are noticed within the first three months of pregnancy when the organs are still in their forming stage. They may affect organ function, appearance, physical or mental development. Some birth defects are harmless while others require long-term medical treatment.
Some birth defects are not easily noticed, it may take a longer time or years before being noticed. Severe birth defects are the main cause of infant mortality worldwide.
The report has it that approximately 1 out of every 34 infants is born with one defect or another in the United States.
Types of birth defects
There are two main categories of birth defects:
1 Structural Birth Disorders
These are defects related to the structure of the body parts. These can include:
Abnormal limbs, like a clubfoot
2 Functional or Developmental Birth Disorders
Functional or developmental birth defects are the problems related to how the body parts or body system work or function. These problems are:
Nervous system or brain disorders.
These include behavioral disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, speech or language difficulties, movement problems, and seizures. Some examples of birth defects that affect the nervous system include; Prader-Willi syndrome, Down syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome.
Sensory problems. These are the disorders associated with the sensory organs. Examples are blindness or deafness, hearing loss, and visual problems.
Metabolic disorders. These involve problems with certain chemical reactions in the body, such as conditions that limit the body’s ability to rid itself of waste materials or harmful chemicals. Two common metabolic disorders are phenylketonuria and hypothyroidism.
Degenerative disorders. These are conditions that might not be obvious at birth but cause one or more aspects of health to steadily get worse. Examples of degenerative disorders are muscular dystrophy and X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, which leads to problems of the nervous system and the adrenal glands.
Some birth defects affect many parts or processes in the body, leading to both structural and functional problems.
Some experts say the cause of over 60% of birth defects is not known but some known causes are herbal or self-medication, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, genetic history, age, infection, diseases, nutritional deficiency, environment, inadequate folic acids, and occupational exposure.
Tips To Help You Prevent Child Birth Disorders
In order to avoid having childbirth disorder, since the causes of childbirth defects are not known, the following tips can help you to increase the possibility of giving birth to a healthy baby and reduce the risk of child birth defects.
1 Keep Up To Date Vaccines Before And During Pregnancy
Vaccines help to protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Ensure you get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccines before or during pregnancy to help protect you and your baby.
2 Avoid Unnecessary Drugs Or Talk To Your Doctor About Any Medication You Want To Take
It is advisable to avoid self-medication and the use of unprescribed drugs during pregnancy. It is good you consult your doctor before you take any drug.
3 Take Your Routine Drugs
During pregnancy, you should take your routine drugs especially folic acid, ensure you take up to the daily recommended 400 milligrams of folic acid, and other essential B Vitamins. Eat a well-balanced diet, get enough rest and exercise moderately.
4 Avoid Caffeine Consumption And Other Harmful Substances
You should avoid the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy; don’t take alcohol and avoid smoking. You should also avoid taking harmful substances like marijuana and other dangerous drugs that are harmful to the body.
5 Get Early Antenatal Care
You should get early and regular antenatal care during pregnancy, and ensure to limit yourself on outdoor activities the days when the weather is very hot and the air quality is poor.
6 Avoid Contact Or Inhaling Poisonous Chemicals
During pregnancy, avoid contact or inhaling certain poisonous chemicals at home or place of work such as pesticides and solvents, paints, lead, and insecticides.
7 Treat All Known Diseases
Before pregnancy, make sure you don’t have any infection and treat all sexually transmitted or other infectious diseases. Control any pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and seizures.
8 Consult A Genetic Counsellor
If you have a family history of child defects, you should ensure that you meet with a genetic counselor to advise you on how to avoid child defects.