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Most Common Structural and Functional Birth Defects!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ashima Aggarwal 92% (131 ratings)
PALS, MD, MBBS
Pediatrician, Delhi  •  10 years experience
Most Common Structural and Functional Birth Defects!

The most important concern that any expecting parent can think about is the possibility of a baby born with birth defects. Birth defects are common in the era of modern medicine and advanced technology, but some of the birth defects are easily avoidable.

Birth defects are either Structural Birth Defects or Functional Birth Defects. The structural birth defects include the infant showing abnormal symptoms and progress in muscles and organs whereas, functional birth defects include the defects in systems, which make the body function properly, such as the neurological and endocrine systems.

The most common structural birth defects are given below:

  1. Missing or abnormal limbs
  2. Heart defects
  3. Club foot (when you cannot put your foot sole on the floor)
  4. Cleft palate (splits or openings in the mouth's roof)

Causes of structural birth defects: The causes of structural birth defects are mainly attributed to genetic disorders or environmental factors such as conception and pregnancy. The external factors include smoking or drinking during pregnancy, deficiency in nutrition or exposure to viruses and other harmful chemicals.

The common functional birth defects are given below:

  1. Sensory disorder: Disorders in sensory system that can cause blindness and other problems, such as the loss of hearing abilities (both partially and fully).
  2. Spectrum Disorder: Problem in proper functioning of brain and the nervous system leading to intellectual impairment, ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and disability in speaking and hearing.
  3. Immunity disorder: It may cause cancer, autoimmune diseases (wherein your body's immune system attacks the healthy tissues) and allergy disorders.
  4. Degenerative Disorder: In this case, the child grows normally, but later shows problem in functioning and day to day activities. Examples of Degenerative disorder will include Rett syndrome (rare neurological postnatal condition of the brain's grey area) and muscular dystrophy (continuous muscle weakening).

Treatment of Birth defects: Birth defects are recognized by a series of tests conducted during pregnancy. Prenatal ultrasounds can be used to identify birth defects in the uterus. A sample of amniotic fluid (the fluid which surrounds the fetus) can be done along with blood tests to combat birth defects. Some prenatal tests can be done to determine the infections which the mother might have which can cause harm to the infant. There are many medications available to combat birth defects. However, it must be noticed that majority of birth defects can be diagnosed and cured after birth.

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