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
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

10/11/2016
Chronic Disease in Mom May Be Linked to Newborns' Heart Disease

Risk highest among women born with heart defects or who developed type 2 diabetes, study suggests

10/3/2016
Zika Causes Widespread Damage to Fetal Brain

Infected moms-to-be should have regular ultrasounds, study author says

9/29/2016
Scientists ID Key Fetal Cells Vulnerable to Zika

Lab study suggests possible mechanism for birth defects to develop

9/27/2016
Babies With Cleft Lip Likely to Have Normal Adulthood: Study

However, cleft palate was associated with increased risk for developmental problems

9/23/2016
Insecticide Spraying Working Against Florida's Zika Mosquitoes: Officials

A two-pesticide punch kills insects and their larvae -- safe for people: CDC

9/19/2016
H1N1 'Swine Flu' Vaccine Unlikely to Raise Birth Defect Risk

Swedish study finds that babies born to women who got the shot had no overall higher odds

9/19/2016
CDC Ends Zika Travel Advisory for Miami Neighborhood

Pregnant women still urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites

9/15/2016
CDC May Lift Zika Travel Advisory for Miami Neighborhood

And report says Congress moves closer to OKing more funding to fight the mosquito-borne disease that causes birth defects

9/12/2016
Monkey Study Shows How Zika May Harm Baby's Brain Development

Findings suggest virus starts to cause damage in fetus shortly after mother's infection

9/12/2016
For Teens With Leukemia, Pregnancy Tests Often Neglected

Risk of chemo-related birth defects needs to be considered, researchers say

9/8/2016
9/1/2016
Newer Epilepsy Drugs May Be Safer During Pregnancy

Small British study says two drugs don't harm a child's mental development, but popular older one does

8/29/2016
Heart Birth Defects Dropped After Folic Acid Was Added to Food

Canadian study found that structural problems saw biggest declines

8/23/2016
Scans Show Range of Zika-Linked Infant Brain Defects

Images of the brains of Brazilian newborns and fetuses suggest the virus affects multiple sites

8/17/2016
Antipsychotic Meds Pose Little Danger to Fetus, Study Finds

Researchers report no significant rise in defects for babies exposed during first trimester

8/11/2016
Study IDs 2 Zika Virus Proteins Linked to Microcephaly

Discovery might one day lead to a way to prevent the birth defect, scientists say