What are the causes of Birth Defects?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 19, 2014
Quick Bites

  • Birth defects can affect appearance and organ function.
  • All pregnant women are at risk of delivering children with birth defects.
  • Birth defects can be classified into structural or metabolic defects.
  • Seizures and breathing problems are some of the common symptoms.

Birth Defects: Overview

Birth defects are abnormalities that can affect the appearance, functioning of the organ, and physical and mental development of the child. These defects usually occur in first 3 months of pregnancy when organ development takes place. Some birth defects can be mild while some can create problems lifelong.

Birth Defect Causes

What are Causes of Birth Defects?

The causes of birth defects range from genetic disorders to lifestyle choices. Also, usage of several medications can also cause birth defects in the child.

Who is at Risk?

All pregnant women are at a risk of delivering a child who may suffer from a birth defect. There are few conditions which increase the risk.

  • A history of birth defects or genetic disorders
  • Addiction to drugs, alcoholism, and smoking
  • Women who conceive after the age of 35 years
  • Untreated virus or infections


What are the Common Birth Defects?

There are thousands of birth defects which affect the children and are broadly classified into structural or metabolic defects. Structural defects are the ones in which a body part is either missing or not formed properly. The most common birth defects are:

  • Heart defects
  • Cleft lip
  • Spina bifida
  • Clubfoot

Metabolic defects are the ones in which there is a problem with the child’s genes or chromosomes. This includes Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Birth Defect Causes

What are the Symptoms of Birth Defects?

While some children show the symptoms of birth defects in form of physical disabilities, there are many defects which are not detected for many months and sometimes even for years. The common symptoms include:

  • Developmental milestones get delayed
  • Feeding problems
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Failed results of hearing tests
  • Seizures

Image courtes: Getty Images

Read more articles on Birth Defects.

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