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13 Jan '16

Birth Defects Awareness Month: Understanding Birth Defects

Posted by Pebbles Weitekamp

January is Birth Defects Awareness Month. Let's better understand what contributes to birth defects, advances in detection, and caring for all of our loved ones, born and to-be-born.

Frequency of Birth Defects

Birth defects can manifest as physical changes in body attributes, or can affect the functioning of the body. According to some studies, a baby is born with a birth defect every four and a half minutes. If you calculate this, there are over 100,000 babies born each year with birth defects.

Causes of Birth Defects

Genes, parents' behavior, and environmental factors can contribute to the development of birth defects. As early as the first three months of pregnancy, birth defects can develop along with the development of the baby's organs. In some types of birth defects, the cause can be identified.

How Birth Defects are Identified

Some birth defects can be identified during pregnancy. Physical deformations can usually be detected through ultrasound while the offspring is still inside a mother's womb. In other cases, birth defects do not physically manifest or symptoms of the deficiency become noticeable not until at a later stage. Therefore, tests like x-rays or echocardiograms are done to find out if the child acquired defects before birth.

Preventing Birth Defects

While the causes of all birth defects are yet to be identified, health professionals have learned that certain lifestyles can increase the chances of babies being born with birth defects. Therefore, the lack of these lifestyles can prevent birth defects.

  • drinking alcohol
  • smoking
  • drugs use
  • poor diet

Additionally, some medications should not be ingested while pregnant. If you take prescriptions and are pregnant or planning on pregnancy, consult with your doctor.


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