7 Types of Birth Defects: Symptoms And Treatment For Newborn

Birth defects are of various kinds, some cause complications whereas others do not. Know 7 types of birth defects with symptoms & treatment.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jan 18, 2022Updated at: Jan 18, 2022
7 Types of Birth Defects: Symptoms And Treatment For Newborn

More than 67000 babies are born in India each day and most of them are healthy. India is on the second number depending on the population but it does lack a few medical health facilities that are required for some babies. Almost 3 out of every 100 infants born have a congenital birth defect which can cause a major complication in health of that child. Even though most of the babies cope up with the congenital defect as they grow, there are some defects which can remain throughout their lives. Hence today we are going to tell you about 7 such birth defects which occurs as hereditary birth defects, their symptoms and treatment options.

What are Birth Defects?

We spoke to Paediatrician Dr. Abha Vedi from Fatima Hospital, Lucknow about types of birth defects. She told that birth defects are structural deformities that occur in the child when they are in the womb of their mothers. This can be major or minor depending on the condition of the disorder that has occurred. The baby may have different appearance, organ function or physical appearance where the defect has occurred. Some of these defects can heal itself with time but some can cause life-threatening complications on child’s health. Hence all parents should first get their children diagnosed for birth defects to avoid complications.


Types of Birth Defects in New Born

1. Congenital Heart Defect

This is heart defect which occurs from the birth, there are genetic abnormalities or problems during foetal development. In some cases the symptoms may be very mild or not visible. In such conditions, doctors examine the abnormal heart sound generally known as murmurs and then send the baby for further tests. Serious heart defects are usually visible and can be detected. Congenital heart defect increases the risk of heart failures because the baby may become incapable of pumping enough blood to other organs of the body.


  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding problems
  • Pale eyes
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen

Treatment- It can be treated through surgery and with the help of a few drugs that can aid its treatment. Most of the heart defects need an pacemaker in order to avoid problems.

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2. Clubfoot

This birth defect occurs in the feet of the baby, it happens to one out of 1000 newborns. It happens more to the girls than in boys and causes foot deformities. Children having clubfoot defect have problem standing and walking on their own. This occurs because of hereditary as well as environmental factors during foetal growth. 

Symptoms- There are almost no symptoms of this, it does not cause pain until or any problem until the children try to stand or walk.

Treatment- Treatment of this birth defect need to be done as soon as possible. This is because the treatment requires pushing of bones to the correct position forcefully which might not be possible after a time interval. Often babies with this disorder need bandaging, plaster, and other aids to help treat the feet deformity that they were born with. 


3. Sickle Cell Disease

This disease also occurs in children from birth. It is a blood disorder that needs to be detected in order to treat it. This is also genetic to a level and can be more prominent in people with association to Caribbean ancestry. 


  • Pain in various organs
  • Damage of viral organs such as kidney or lungs
  • Distorted levels of haemoglobin in the body

Treatment- As a result of this disease, the cells become trapped in the liver and then get destroyed by spleen causing anemia. To prevent this condition, you need to treat the symptoms of this disease. There is no direct treatment available to treat sickle cell disease. You need to tackle defects, disorders, pain and risks of sickle cell disease to keep in under control.

4. Spina Bifida 

This is a spinal defect which occurs to rare of the babies. It is caused because of malformation of neural tube in the brain and spine. As a result of this, the spine is not able to develop completely that affects the backbone formation. They happen because of neural tube defect that can also be detected during pregnancy. In such cases, the baby is taken out by caesarean section. The severity can range widely in this condition.

Symptoms- It can either have no symptom or it can have leg paralysis, bladder control problems, bowel movement disorders, etc. 

Treatment- In severe cases, the baby needs to be operated within 48 hours of the birth to prevent adversity. Once surgery is done, then the parents need to make baby exercise and take special precaution with him till he grows up. However some defects are not able to treat and then they need medical aids such as wheel chair and so on.


5. Missing or Undeveloped Limbs

This is a serious condition in which the limbs of the child are not able to get developed. As a result of this, it causes birth defects to the baby. It is not known why does it happen exactly but experts suggest that it is because of maternal exposure during pregnancy. Also there cannot be any symptoms in this condition because the limbs are not developed in the body, which is natural formation.

Treatment- in the condition when the child is born with a missing or undeveloped limb, the doctor refers parents to orthopaedic specialist. It can only be solved by using prosthesis as soon as child is ready for it. This needs a intensive physical therapy and child needs to learn to control their body parts again. 

6. Cleft Lip or Palate

In this condition the child has abnormal lip structure. It happens more often to Asians than of any other subcontinent. The exact cause of this birth defect is hard to determine and thus not much in known. Cleft lip or palate occurs on the upper lip and does not cause major problems to child’s health. 


  • Cleft visible on the lip
  • Language speaking problems
  • Speech disorders
  • Middle ear infections

Treatment- Cleft lip or palate can be treated with the help of surgery, but for that the child needs to be 3 months or older. Surgery helps to restore the partition between nose and mouth and it takes 6-12 months for natural growth of the lip to be built properly. 

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7. Down Syndrome

This is quite common birth defect with occurs in children. In Down syndrome, the physical features are undeveloped, short or abnormal. Most of the children born with Down syndrome have these defects-

  • Slanted eyes
  • Small ears
  • Small mouth
  • Small nose
  • Flattened nasal bridge
  • Short neck 
  • Short fingers

All these defects occur because of Down syndrome. However they do not cause any major discrepancy with health hence there is no need of any treatment in this condition. Also children with these defects can perform various functions as normally as other children, hence nothing needs to be done. 

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