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
10/13/2017
Women Falling Short on Birth Defect Prevention

New survey finds too few are taking folic acid before pregnancy

10/9/2017
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

10/4/2017
Antibody Injections in Pregnancy Might Shield Fetus From Zika

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

9/21/2017
Premature Births Cost Health Plans Billions

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

8/25/2017
Some Newborns Don't Get Heart Defect, Hearing Loss Tests

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

8/17/2017
'Herd Immunity' May Be Curbing U.S. Zika Numbers

But smaller future outbreaks are likely, scientists warn

8/2/2017
Geneticists Repair Mutation in Human Embryo

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

7/13/2017
Experimental Vaccines Might Shield Fetus From Zika

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

6/15/2017
Higher Pregnancy Weight Tied to Raised Odds for Birth Defects

But researchers say absolute risk is low

6/9/2017
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

6/7/2017
Antidepressants During Pregnancy Safe for Baby: Study

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

6/6/2017
Just 10 Cigarettes During Pregnancy Can Harm Kids

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

5/25/2017
Eye Problems May Be Tied to Zika, Lab Study Suggests

Work with monkeys indicates birth defects could extend beyond brain abnormalities

5/24/2017
Zika Arrived in Florida at Least Four Different Ways

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

5/9/2017
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

5/3/2017
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

4/21/2017
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

4/4/2017
Scientists Probe Zika's Path to the Fetus

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

4/3/2017
Far Fewer Kids Are Dying Worldwide, but Gains Are Uneven

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

3/31/2017
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

3/29/2017
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

3/2/2017
Risk of Birth Defects 20 Times Higher for Zika Moms: CDC

Finding highlights importance of preventing infection during pregnancy, researchers say

3/1/2017
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

2/21/2017
Learning Issues Common in Kids With Heart Defects: Study

Many fall behind before fourth grade, tests show

2/14/2017
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

2/1/2017
Parents of Kids With Heart Defects Face PTSD Risk: Study

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

1/26/2017
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

1/19/2017
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

1/12/2017
Pregnancy OK for Most Women With Congenital Heart Conditions: Report

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

1/10/2017
New Guidelines Reaffirm Prenatal Folic Acid to Curb Birth Defects

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

12/23/2016
More Than Half of Brazilian Women Avoid Pregnancy Due to Zika Fear

In excess of 1,800 cases of birth defects linked to the mosquito-borne virus have hit the country so far

12/22/2016
Smoking in Pregnancy Tied to Kidney Damage in Kids

Raised risk of reduced organ function seen in 3-year-olds whose moms smoked while pregnant

12/20/2016
Mothers of Kids With Severe Birth Defects May Have Shorter Lives: Study

But the overall risk of early death is still quite low

12/16/2016
Down Syndrome May Not Be Big Financial Burden on Families

Having a child with the condition costs about $80 more a month in medical expenses, study finds

12/15/2016
MRI Helps Assess Fetal Brain Abnormalities: Study

Researchers recommend its use mid-pregnancy if ultrasound picks up potential problem

12/14/2016
Birth Defects From Zika More Far-Reaching Than Thought

Studies found greater prevalence than believed, more neurological problems cropping up months after birth

12/13/2016
Study Shows How Zika Attacks Infant Brain

Virus can copy itself thousands of times, persist for more than 7 months

12/9/2016
Zika-Linked Birth Defects Surge in Colombia: CDC

Study suggests the scourge of microcephaly tied to the mosquito-borne virus is no longer limited to Brazil

12/7/2016
Drug Might Help Some Babies With Rare, Fatal Disease

Spinal muscular atrophy is typically lethal within 2 years, but new treatment offers hope

11/23/2016
Hearts of Healthy People With Gene Mutations May Be 'Primed to Fail'

About 35 million people worldwide face heart failure risk from genetic flaws, researchers say

11/14/2016
Tracking Blood Sugar in Pregnancy Might Lower Heart Defect Risk for Baby

Study strengthens tie between gestational diabetes and these congenital anomalies

11/9/2016
Blood Test May Spot Babies at Risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Study singled out infants who showed physical, mental signs of exposure

11/7/2016
Antibody Treatment Shields Fetus From Zika -- in Mice

Human-derived protein shows promise, but must still be tested in human trials

10/20/2016
Zika Testing for All Pregnant Women Who Have Been in Florida County: CDC

Latest recommendation covers more than the two areas in Miami-Dade where local transmission is occurring

10/19/2016
New Clues on How Zika Causes Brain Birth Defects

Virus appears to hijack certain cells involved in normal head and brain development, scientists say

10/18/2016
CDC Updates Spending Plans to Combat Zika

Some goals: prepare states for future outbreaks, and track virus' effects on the unborn

10/17/2016
Fewer Birth Defects for Older Moms Who Have Fertility Treatments

In vitro fertilization cut the rate in half for women over 40, study finds

10/14/2016
Florida Officials Announce New Zika Zone in Miami

News comes just weeks after another neighborhood was declared free of virus after aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes

10/13/2016
Scientists Map DNA of Zika Virus From Semen

It's another step in trying to understand the germ linked to severe birth defects worldwide

10/12/2016
Mom-to-Be's Antidepressant Use May Be Tied to Speech Issues in Child

Study shows a link but can't prove cause and effect, and experts stress that overall risk is small