What causes birth defects?
We do not know what causes most birth defects. Sometimes they just happen and are not caused by anything that the parents did or didn’t do. Many parents feel guilty if they have a child with a birth defect even if they did everything they could to have a healthy child. If you have a child with a birth defect, it might be helpful to talk with other parents who have had a child with the same condition (See How can I get in touch with parents of a child with the same birth defect as my child?) Sometimes the causes of birth defects are figured out after the baby is born. Whenever possible, it is important to know what you can do for a better chance of having a healthy child in the future. Some actions might increase the chances of having a baby with a birth defect. The questions and answers that follow talk about some of these known risks.
Birth defects, however, and their origins and cures, still seem to elude us. According to the March of Dimes more than half of all birth defects have unknown causes, while about 40% of all birth defects are the result of genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of both. Many defects caused by environmental factors have resulted in families consulting a birth defect attorney for legal advice.
Birth defects have a variety of causes, such as: Genetic problems caused when one or more genes doesn’t work properly or part of a gene is missing Problems with chromosomes, such as having an extra chromosome or missing part of a chromosome Environmental factors that a woman is exposed to during pregnancy, such as rubella or German measles while pregnant, or using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. What are the different types of birth defects? There are two main types of birth defects: structural and functional/developmental. Structural birth defects are related to a problem with body parts. Some physical problems include cleft lip or cleft palate, heart defects, such as missing or misshaped valves, and abnormal limbs, such as a club foot. They also include neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, problems that are related to the growth and development of the brain and spinal cord. Functional birth defects are related to a problem with how a body part or body system works. These pro
We know the causes for some birth defects, but the causes of most birth defects are unknown. We do know that genetics, environmental factors, and nutritional, infectious, and other health-related factors during pregnancy play a role, but how big or small a role each plays in causing birth defects overall is the matter of intense research and debate. A growing number of experts believe that most birth defects result from multiple factors. By this interpretation, inherited genes may predispose someone to a birth defect, but one or more environmental factors also must be present to result in a birth defect. This is called a gene-environment interaction. For example, women with a certain form of a gene that is involved in the development of the mouth are more susceptible to having a child with cleft lip or cleft palate, if they also smoke. If they don’t smoke, their risk is much lower. And the risk is also much lower for women who smoke but who don’t have that particular gene. Genetics :we