No parent wants to think about their child having a birth defect, serious or not, but it’s an unfortunate possibility when you choose to have a child. Expectant couples should take the time to understand their child’s risks for developing a birth defect so they can consider what they will do if it happens. Learn about these four birth defects every expectant couple should be aware of.
Heart defects are fairly common among infants and vary in severity. The good news is that heart defects can often be treated with surgery and some conditions will be so minor they won’t be a threat or even cause symptoms. Heart defects include a range of conditions, including the heart valves not closing all the way, the walls between the chambers of the heart not developing correctly, blood vessels not functioning properly and more.
Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip
Infants born with a cleft palate or cleft lip are not especially uncommon. In fact, it is the most common birth defect not caused by a genetic disorder among babies born in the United States. This condition is diagnosed when there is a split or opening on either the lip or the roof of the mouth, which can make it difficult or impossible to eat or drink. Fortunately, this condition can be corrected with cleft lip surgery.
Down syndrome, which is the result of a genetic defect, is one of the most common birth defects. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that in roughly 1 out of every 707 births the baby has Down syndrome. Down syndrome is incurable and affects some more severely than others. Individuals with Down syndrome are often very kind and contribute to society even if raising a child with it will be a challenge, so parents who learn their baby will have Down syndrome need to start accessing resources that will aid them.
This is a birth defect where the spine does not develop properly. It ranges from mild to severe and can often be treated. Evidence suggests that taking folic acid before and during the first trimester of pregnancy drastically reduces the risk of a baby developing spina bifida, so women attempting to get pregnant should consider taking this supplement.
Some birth defects are rarer and others more common, but learning your baby has a disability can be devastating for parents. It is important for you to understand your options for pursuing treatment, managing the condition or terminating the pregnancy in the tragic case that the baby is nonviable. Your medical providers can help you achieve the best possible outcome.