Congenital Birth Defects


Not all babies are born healthy; unfortunately, some are born with congenital birth defects. Unlike diseases that are related to an unhealthy lifestyle, congenital birth defects exist since birth. A number of factors play a role in the presence of congenital birth defects, some of which are genetic; they occur when some genes are either missing or mutated. Birth defects are also a result of chromosomal problems such as a missing chromosome, for instance. Other defects take place because of the exposure of pregnant women to medications, chemicals, or contracting some illnesses. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe defects; in this article, we will go through some of the most common birth defects.

1. Congenital Heart Defects

It is one of the conditions where the heart does not function properly, causing swollen legs, bluish skin, and breathing problems. Cases of congenital heart defects can, fortunately, be cured, or at least improved. Some minor defects require only regular check-ups from cardiologists, while surgeries are needed for severe congenital heart defects.

2. Gastroschisis

In this condition, babies are born with a problem with the abdominal wall. Their intestines and some organs stick outside their bodies and not in their bodies where they should be. This means that these organs become unprotected, which requires corrective surgeries to insert the bowels back into the abdomen. 

3. Anotia/Microtia

This birth defect is related to how the ears are formed; some babies are born with a very small external ear or even without one. Sometimes, it is only a problem of how the baby looks; yet, the inner ear is functional. Other times, however, the inner canal of the ear is missing. Treating this condition includes assessing the hearing of the child; as a result, hearing aids may be used. It also includes ear reconstruction surgery to correct the defect.

4. Zika Virus

We cannot discuss birth defects without mentioning Zika, the most recent global scare. Mothers affected by Zika virus give birth to mutilated children. Microcephaly is the birth defect caused by Zika virus where the baby’s head is smaller than its normal size. Zika is transmitted mainly through mosquito bites. Although, there is currently no cure or vaccination to protect people from the virus, measures are taken to control the spread of the virus. These measures include stopping pregnant women from travelling to areas where they might get infected with the virus.

Ranging from mild to severe, some birth defects are nothing to worry about, and not all birth defects are frequent, which means that some of them are quite rare. However, this does not mean that people should take birth defects lightly. Although some factors are beyond a mother’s control, there are some factors that a pregnant woman can control in order to bring a healthy child to the world. This includes controlling her weight, having her diabetes checked, avoiding cigarettes, and finally trying to avoid infections.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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