What is a birth defect?

birth defect is a problem that originates during pregnancy, generally during the first months, and that generates some alteration in the child’s organism from birth.

This alteration can affect any aspect of the functioning of the human body and therefore may or may not be visible and cause symptoms from birth or later.

In general, the seriousness with which these affect the life of a child will depend on the organ or part of the body involved and the level of alteration that it causes in it.

What are the most common birth defects?

The most frequent congenital malformations are those that affect the heart. About 1of newborns suffer from congenital heart disease of varying severity. These can be isolated or part of a more serious condition such as a congenital disease or syndrome.

In addition, we cannot forget a genetic disease known to all as Down Syndrome, which occurs in about 1 in 1,000 newborns. It is important to remember that the severity of Down syndrome is highly variable and can range from characteristic physical features with hardly any cognitive impairment to profound mental retardation.

Another frequent but usually less serious congenital alteration is facial mid-line alterations such as cleft lip or cleft palate, which occurs in 1 in 650 newborns and, like congenital heart defects, can appear isolated or associated to some syndrome. These can be corrected by consulting the plastic surgeon in Kanpur during first year of the child.

Why are some children born with birth defects?

Birth defects are not the result of a single cause. They may be due to genetic inheritance, preexisting diseases or diseases contracted by the mother in the first months of pregnancy, the intake of medication by the mother during the same period and the joint action of some of these factors. The most frequent causes of congenital malformations can be divided into two groups

  • Genetic causes of birth defects
    • hereditary
    • Occurred during pregnancy
  • Non-genetic causes of birth defects
    • infections
    • toxic
    • Nutritional Deficits
    • environmental agents

Among the genetic causes of congenital anomalies we have examples of hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s Chorea or non-hereditary diseases such as Down Syndrome.

Among the infections associated with congenital defects we have some that are as well known as chickenpox or others that are somewhat more forgotten, such as syphilis. It is vitally important to know the existence of any active infection by agents of this type at the time of becoming pregnant.

There are toxins such as alcoholtobacco or drugs that can cause damage of different considerations in multiple organs such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This makes the consumption of any of these substances during pregnancy absolutely unacceptable.

Nutritional deficiencies such as folic acid deficiency favor the appearance of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This is a serious disease that could be prevented with a simple measure of folic acid supplementation before planning a pregnancy.

There will be drugspesticideschemicalsradiation and other mutagenic substances that are known to be associated with congenital malformations and therefore should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy.

Dr. Amit Verma

Dr Amit Verma is a senior plastic surgeon specializing in Aesthetic, Reconstructive & Burn Plastic Surgery. His solid academic background, years of accumulated experience and permanent scientific updating make him one of the most sought-after plastic surgeon in Kanpur.