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Birth Defects - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention in Pakistan

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Summary about Birth Defects

Birth defects are structural abnormalities that occur during pregnancy and may damage virtually any portion or sections of the baby's body (e.g., heart, brain, foot). They may have an impact on how the body appears, functions, or both. Birth defects range in severity from minor to severe. The well-being of any kid afflicted by a birth abnormality is mostly determined by which organ or body part is implicated and how severely it is affected. The expected lifetime of a person with a birth abnormality may or may not be impacted, depending on the severity of the problem and which body component is affected.

Causes of Birth Defects

Birth malformations may develop at any point throughout the pregnancy. The majority of birth abnormalities arise during the first three months of pregnancy, while the baby's organs are developing. This is a critical stage of development. Some birth abnormalities, however, develop later in pregnancy. Tissues and organs continue to grow and develop throughout the final six months of pregnancy.

Risk Factors of Birth Defects

One or multiple of the following factors in pregnant women can lead to birth defects in their babies.

  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking street drugs.
  • Having certain medical conditions like obesity.
  • Having a history of birth defects. 
  • Taking certain medications. 
  • Getting pregnant in an older age. 

Preventive Measures of Birth Defects

Not all birth defects can be prevented but taking some precautionary measures can lessen the risk of many.

  • Start a prenatal care as soon as you know that you are pregnant.
  • Take folic acid supplements, in your child bearing age. 
  • Consulting your gynecologist regarding any medication you are taking during pregnancy. 
  • Plan a pregnancy keeping in mind your health and age. 

Types of Birth Defects

Birth defects are classified in two broad classifications  


Structural Birth Defects

Structural birth defects are related to a problem with the structure of body parts. These can include:

  • Cleft lip or cleft palate
  • Heart defects, such as missing or misshaped valves
  • Abnormal limbs, such as a clubfoot
  • Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and problems related to the growth and development of the brain and spinal cord

Functional or Developmental Birth Defects

These type of birth defects are related to the deflective functioning and working of a body part or system.

  • Nervous system or brain problems
  • Sensory problems
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Degenerative disorders