Misc. Birth Defect News

Birth defects, also called congenital disorders, are health problems that a child is born with. They represent a wide range of health conditions, ranging from minor to life-threatening. Babies born with birth defects are at a greater risk for disabilities or illnesses later in life.

Types of Birth Defects

Though there are literally thousands of types of birth defects, some of the most common ones include spina bifida, Down syndrome, cleft palate and heart defects. Some birth defects are easy to see on a newborn baby, but others, such as heart, lung or hearing problems, are not outwardly visible. These birth defects require special testing to diagnose and treat. Similarly, some birth defects, such as cleft palate, can be treated and corrected, while others are lifelong disabilities.

Causes and Prevention

In many cases, birth defects are genetic disorders that are passed down from parents to a child. There is little that can be done to prevent this. There are, however, a number of other steps a mother can take before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

These steps include abstaining from using alcohol, tobacco or drugs during pregnancy. It’s also important to speak with a health-care provider about what prescription medications, herbs, supplements and foods should and should not be taken. In addition, studies have shown that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting even before pregnancy, is helpful in reducing risk. And finally, strive to get health problems like diabetes or obesity under control before becoming pregnant as they can also increase risk.

In many cases, birth defects can be detected via testing before birth. Though this can be a stressful decision, it can help parents plan for caring for a child with a birth defect. Also, the treatment or preparation to treat the birth defect may be able to begin even before birth.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; March of Dimes

Date Posted
Article Title
Women Falling Short on Birth Defect Prevention

New survey finds too few are taking folic acid before pregnancy

Surviving Congenital Heart Disease as Child Not a Ticket to Good Health

Many of these children can also suffer from illnesses such as autism and respiratory conditions, study says

Antibody Injections in Pregnancy Might Shield Fetus From Zika

But experimental treatment only tested in monkeys so far, researchers say

Premature Births Cost Health Plans Billions

Employer-based insurance forked over the money for special care, treatment of birth defects, study says

Some Newborns Don't Get Heart Defect, Hearing Loss Tests

Such screens are critical to early intervention efforts, CDC officials say

'Herd Immunity' May Be Curbing U.S. Zika Numbers

But smaller future outbreaks are likely, scientists warn

Geneticists Repair Mutation in Human Embryo

In 'first-of-its kind' procedure, scientists converted to normal a mutant gene involved in heart threat

Experimental Vaccines Might Shield Fetus From Zika

A mouse study shows the vaccines protected unborn baby mice from the virus

Higher Pregnancy Weight Tied to Raised Odds for Birth Defects

But researchers say absolute risk is low

1 in 20 Pregnant Women Infected With Zika Have Babies With Birth Defects: CDC

Report from U.S. territories finds 120 newborns suffered range of devastating developmental problems

Antidepressants During Pregnancy Safe for Baby: Study

It finds newborns aren't more likely to be irritable, hard to feed or sleepless

Just 10 Cigarettes During Pregnancy Can Harm Kids

Teens whose mothers smoked may have issues with thinking skills, study shows

Eye Problems May Be Tied to Zika, Lab Study Suggests

Work with monkeys indicates birth defects could extend beyond brain abnormalities

Zika Arrived in Florida at Least Four Different Ways

Virus strains came from the Caribbean and Latin America, researchers say

Zika Risk May Be Lower Than Thought for Some Pregnant Women

U.S. study found only 1 of 185 who traveled to active areas tested positive, and baby wasn't infected

Zika Epidemic in U.S. Could Be a Costly Scenario

A mild outbreak might approach $200 million, while more severe spread could involve billions, study finds

You Can Probably Credit Your Genes for These Facial Features

Twins study found DNA most at play for nose's tip, area around lips, cheekbones

Scientists Probe Zika's Path to the Fetus

Virus uses a cellular mechanism to cross into the placenta, upping the danger of birth defects

Far Fewer Kids Are Dying Worldwide, but Gains Are Uneven

While study found great progress, problems persist in South Asia and parts of Africa

Health Risks Grow as Young People Born With HIV Age

About 10,000 Americans were infected at birth, and many are now young adults with medical issues, study finds

Cases of Zika-Linked Birth Defects Dropped in Brazil in 2016

The South American country was the epicenter of the mosquito-borne disease a year earlier

Risk of Birth Defects 20 Times Higher for Zika Moms: CDC

Finding highlights importance of preventing infection during pregnancy, researchers say

Antiviral Flu Drugs Safe in Mid-to-Late Pregnancy: Study

No higher rates of complications seen in babies when mom took these meds after 22 weeks of pregnancy

Learning Issues Common in Kids With Heart Defects: Study

Many fall behind before fourth grade, tests show

Zika Lingers in Semen for Less Time Than Thought: Study

But scientists say guidelines urging abstinence, condoms for 6 months after infection should still be followed

Parents of Kids With Heart Defects Face PTSD Risk: Study

They're also more likely to suffer depression, anxiety -- and new moms particularly vulnerable

Risk of Death Due to Birth Defects Higher If Baby Covered by Medicaid

Researchers call for better efforts to reduce such tragedies, regardless of family's insurance status

U.S. Health Care Costs From Birth Defects Total Almost $23 Billion a Year

CDC study finds many cases involve babies, but care may be needed for a lifetime

Pregnancy OK for Most Women With Congenital Heart Conditions: Report

Preconception counseling helps moms-to-be understand potential risks, doctors say

New Guidelines Reaffirm Prenatal Folic Acid to Curb Birth Defects

Women of childbearing age should take 400 to 800 micrograms daily, task force recommends