January 28, 2014
About 150,000 babies are born each year with a birth defect. The most common birth defect is congenital heart defect, says Dr. Robert Abrams, associate professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. He explains some other types of birth defects.
“Other common structural birth defects include club foot which is where the foot is abnormally turned inward. and this happens in about one every 400 babies. Other birth defects include cleft lip and pallet and a neural defect which is commonly known as spina bifida. And that occurs in about one in 2,000 pregnancies. The most common defect which is a genetic defect is Down syndrome and that occurs in about one in 800 pregnancies.”
Dr. Abrams says most structural birth defects can be seen by a prenatal ultrasound which is typically done in the fifth month of pregnancy. Genetic and neural defects can be detected by ultra sound or a blood test. Most structural defects can be treated and corrected after birth. He offers this advice to women.
“. . . to optimize a woman’s pregnancy, she should really see her health care provider prior to getting pregnant and sort out her medical conditions and talk about the medications that she is on. And then during pregnancy it is extremely important to maintain compliance with your health care provider and go to regular prenatal visits and continue taking vitamins throughout pregnancy.”
Dr. Abrams recommends that women avoid tobacco and alcohol during pregnancy. It causes not only birth defects but also other complications such as premature babies.