Birth defects account for approximately 120,000 babies born in the United States alone. Some of these defects are genetic, while others are brought on through environmental factors or a combination of both. In fact, some birth defects are so severe that they result in a baby’s death. No matter how serious any given birth defect is, it will have a major impact on the child’s, and your family’s, life.
Here are the top ten most common birth defects:
- Down’s Syndrome. The chance of giving birth to a child with this genetic disorder is increased with the mother’s age. Both men and women can transfer faulty genes to the child.
- Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate. Several factors determine the likelihood of bearing children with a cleft lip or palate. Family history, race, sex, parent obesity and smoking while pregnant all increase the risk.
- Congenital Heart Defect. The most common causes of congenital heart defects in newborns are family history and drinking while you’re pregnant. However, other factors are also considered such as diabetes and taking certain medications during pregnancy.
- Missing or Undeveloped Limbs. There is no known cause for this particular defect. However, during your pregnancy, taking certain medications or contracting various infections or viruses increase the risk.
- Stomach/Intestinal Defects. Younger, caucasian women are at a higher risk of having a baby with digestive problems. Smoking and drinking alcohol during your pregnancy also adds to this risk.
- Eye Defects. Nearsightedness and blindness are common amongst this group of birth defects. They are largely genetic, but there are some environmental factors involved as well.
- Spina Bifida. Having a family history of neural tube defects is largely responsible for Spina Bifida. Other risk factors while you’re pregnant are increased body temperature, pre-pregnancy obesity, vitamin B-9 deficiency, and diabetes.
- Sickle Cell Disease. This is another genetic defect that’s primarily found African-Americans. The chance of birthing a child with sickle cell disease is completely dependent on the parents having the trait in their genes.
- Autism. Autism affects all races, but boys are most likely to be born with some form. Parents who show minor issues with social or communication skills and who are older tend to have children with autism.
For the most part, watching what you put into your body decreases the odds of having a child with birth defects. Your doctor is able to identify most of these before your baby is born.