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Birth defects are problems that happen when the baby is developing in the mother’s womb. Most of the birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. They are structural or functional abnormalities that cause physical or mental disability. They are the leading cause of death for infants during the first year of life or during birth. They may be caused by genetic problems, problems with chromosomes, or environmental factors.
HOW IS BIRTH DEFECTS DIAGNOSED?
Many birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy by prenatal ultrasound of the uterus. Women who have higher risk pregnancy due to family history may be tested further by blood tests or by taking a sample of amniotic fluid. A physical examination and hearing test may also be used to diagnose birth defects after the baby is born. A blood test called the newborn screen can help diagnose some birth defects before the symptoms occur.
HOW IS BIRTH DEFECTS TREATED?
Consumption of folic acid during pregnancy can help prevent some birth defects. Babies with birth defects may undergo surgery or other medical treatments depending on the problem. Genetic counselling also helps.
DID YOU KNOW?
Many birth defects cannot be prevented, but, there are some ways to lower the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Supplements taken during and before pregnancy may be recommended by the medical practitioner.