Birth defects, or also known as congenital anomaly, is an abnormality that may be detected during pregnancy, at birth, or during early childhood. The abnormality can affect the function or structure of a baby’s body part of their metabolism.

Birth defects range from those that are minor to some that are fatal. For example, the most common one involves the urinary tract and can be treated with surgery.

There are 2 main types of birth defects.

1. Structural Birth Defects

These include problems that relate to the structure of body parts. Some body parts might be missing or not properly formed. Examples are:

  • Facial problems
    • cleft lip or cleft palate
  • Heart defects
    • missing or misshaped valves
  • Abnormal limbs
    • clubfoots
  • Neural tube defects
    • spina bifida
    • problems related to growth and development of the brain and spinal cord
  • Urinary system
    • hypospadias (birth defect of the penis)

2. Functional or Developmental Birth Defects

These are related to problems with how a body part or body system works or functions. Most of the time, one of the body’s chemicals is missing or do not form properly. Examples are:

  • Nervous system or brain problems
    • intellectual and developmental disabilities (Down’s syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Fragile X syndrome)
    • behavioral disorders
    • speech or language difficulties
    • seizures
    • movement trouble
  • Sensory problems
    • hearing problems (deafness)
    • visual problems (blindness)
  • Metabolic disorders
    • problems with certain chemical reactions in the body
      • phenylketonuria
      • hypothyroidism
  • Degenerative disorders
    • these conditions might not be obvious at birth but can cause a gradual deterioration of health
      • muscular dystrophy
      • X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy

Sources: BetterHealth, US Department of Health and Human Services.

Don't miss out! Subscribe now!