What Are Birth Defects And How to Prevent Them?
Couples dream about so many things when they are expecting a child. What they don’t even imagine is a birth defect. This issue is common, critical, and it can be costly for the child. 1 of 33 children born suffers from some sort of birth defect. Babies with birth defects are born every five minutes!
This issue troubles many babies because of structural changes that occurred at the time of birth. Defects can appear on any part of the child’s body. It can have an effect on how your baby works, looks or reacts.
These defects can be mild to severe. The severity of the issue depends on which organ it appeared. This issue does not affect the child’s lifespan. However, it can affect his social life, limit his natural capabilities and cause other issues.
How to Recognize A Birth Defect?
Birth defects can be minor or major structural deformities. They may occur before, after, or at the time of birth. Most children experience this issue during the first year. You can easily spot some defects, such as cleft lips. Other things are not so obvious or visible.
Heart defects for example are not known for a long time. It is also a kind of birth defect that affects many children’s life. It requires certain tests to ensure the baby is fine or not. The visible analysis does not always tell the complete picture. Therefore, doctors perform a comprehensive physical examination after the child’s birth.
What Does Cause Birth Defects?
Children with birth defects face drastic challenges in their life. Therefore, all parents want to have a normal child with all the normal features. It can affect the baby at any stage of pregnancy.
It mostly affects during the first 3 months of pregnancy when the child’s organs are developing. Therefore, this period is often considered the most important stage of development. Birth defects can also affect the unborn child later during pregnancy.
Organ tissues continue to grow in the last six months of pregnancy. The unborn child can get certain birth defects during this period.
Several factors can be responsible for birth defects!
It’s daunting to pin down any specific cause for birth defects. Fetal alcohol syndrome is known to cause issues, but others factors are not that clear. Health experts still do not know what causes other defects.
Some studies reveal a combination of factors can be responsible for most birth defects. A pregnant woman’s activities, parents’ genes, environment, etc. can affect the development of a fetus. Doctors still do not know how those factors work together to affect the child’s development.
Potential causes of birth defects
It will require further research to find out the exact causes of birth defects. However, the following situations can badly affect the growth of a child!
- Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and smoking when you are pregnant!
- Medications, such as isotretinoin can also affect the development of the child.
- The mother’s health issues, such as diabetes, obesity, etc. can cause birth defects in an unborn child!
- Women older than 35 years can give birth to a child with certain birth defects!
- People with a family history of birth defects may have babies with similar or different defects.
You must consult with a genetic counsellor if there is a history of birth defects in your family. Parents should never get scared if they have any of the above-listed issues. Many women, who do not have any of the above-mentioned issues, give birth to a child with birth defects!
Lack of nutrition can also cause such issues in babies
The development of the fetus can be affected due to a lack of nutrition. Weakness in pregnant women can affect the proper growth of the baby in the womb. Therefore, you must take all the recommended nutrition and supplements in pregnancy.
Birth defects can occur in any visible or invisible part of the child’s body. Proper care during pregnancy can prevent this issue. The chances of having a healthy child will increase if you take care of yourself when you are pregnant.
What Can You Do To Prevent Birth Defects?
It is a bitter truth that you cannot prevent all birth defects. However, there are certain things you can do before the pregnancy and during this period to have a normal child. Those things are as follows:
Go for a regular health checkup
It’s not just about you! A new being is relying on you for his proper growth. You have to ensure you stay fit and healthy so that the child can develop properly. Meet the doctor regularly to ensure the child is healthy.
Start consuming folic acid before pregnancy
You should be well-prepared for motherhood if you are planning to have a baby. Start consuming 400 mcg of folic acid every day before you get pregnant. It will help a lot in ensuring your future child is fit.
Quit alcohol, smoking, and other such things
Alcohol intake can badly affect the growth of your child. Stop drinking and smoking! It can be tough to do if these things have become a part of your lifestyle. So, get rid of these unhealthy habits before you plan to have a child.
Do not take OTC medications
You should always consult with your doctor before taking any medicine during pregnancy. Certain medications can badly affect the child’s growth in your womb. It will be quite a disheartening experience if an unknown mistake causes defects.
It does not matter whether you are taking any allopathic medicine or some herbal supplements. Meet your healthcare provider to know whether the chosen medicine or supplement is beneficial for you or not. Avoid it if your doctor prohibits you from consuming it. You should also avoid infections during pregnancy to have a normal child!
Improve your health
Be well-prepared for the most important 9 months of your life before you get pregnant. Control cholesterol or diabetes if you are suffering from one of such diseases. Lose some weight if you are suffering from obesity. Get fit to avoid any chance of affecting the proper growth of the child.
Can Environmental Factors Cause Birth Defects?
Even though you follow the tips shared in this post to prevent birth defects, environmental factors can cause this issue. About 4-6% of newborn children have some kind of birth defect. Yet, all the causes are unknown but environmental factors can affect the physical features of an unborn child.
Environmental factors and birth defects
Many studies have revealed that environmental factors increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and other health problems. Both mother and child can experience severe health conditions due to pollution in the environment.
A baby develops in two stages after conception. The embryo stage is the first stage. It can occur during the first three months after getting pregnant. It is a period when the baby’s vital organs are formed and start developing. Certain environmental conditions can affect the proper development of the baby’s organs in this stage!
The risks of birth defects slightly reduce during the fetal stage. It is the second stage of a child’s development. The fetus develops as a normal child in this stage and he is quite vulnerable to injuries. Proper care is needed to avoid complications and keep the child healthy.
Is pollution responsible for birth defects?
Frequent inhaling of certain gases can severely affect the fetus growth. Couples should use air purifier if they live in a highly polluted area. Recent studies show that many newborn babies have health conditions. These health conditions are defects occurred due to environmental pollution.
What Should You Do to Have A Healthy Child?
The World Health Organization has suggested a three-level preventive measure to reduce the risks of birth defects. It is explained below:
You should take care of certain things before and during pregnancy. Get healthier, quit all the bad habits, and start following a nourishing diet plan. You will significantly reduce the risks of birth defects in your child if you are healthy before pregnancy.
Monitor the development of the fetus after the first three months. The doctor can diagnose birth defects early to improve the child’s condition before he is born. It will require comprehensive screening of the child in the womb.
Breastfeed the baby on demand to avoid the risks of birth defects. This issue can affect the child’s life after birth. Therefore, you should take better care of the child to ensure the complete development of your baby.
People are having babies with birth defects since ancient time. Doctors still do not understand this health problem completely. That’s why you have to follow all the preventive measures to have a healthy child.
Get prepared before pregnancy and follow a healthy lifestyle after pregnancy. The child mostly relies on his mother for all his needs until he is 3 years old. Therefore, the mother must take care of herself to maintain the good health of the child. It is not possible to thoroughly eliminate the risks of birth defects. You can still reduce those risks to have a fit, healthy, and strong baby.