What exactly are birth defects

Birth defects are common -
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year.

Births and deaths worldwide -
Globally, about 3-6% of infants are born with a serious birth defect. Furthermore, an estimated 240,000 newborns worldwide die within 24 hours of birth every year.

What is a birth defect? -
Birth defects, also called congenital disorders or congenital malformations, are structural or functional anomalies that occur during intrauterine life.

When do birth defects form? - These structural or functional anomalies can affect one or more parts of the body. This includes the heart, brain, feet, and hands.

Most common birth defects -
The most common severe birth anomalies are heart defects, neural tube defects, and Down syndrome.

Neural tube defects -
Neural tube defects (NTDs) occur when the neural tube does not close properly. The neural tube is the embryonic precursor to the central nervous system. 

Cystic fibrosis -
Cystic fibrosis is a birth defect that occurs whenever someone inherits the "CF gene" from both of their parents.

Down syndrome -
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder usually caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.

Absence of limbs -
Congenital limb defects also occur when a part of or the entire arm or leg of a fetus fails to form completely during pregnancy.

Causes -
It's often difficult to identify the exact causes of birth defects.

Risk factors -
Inhaling tobacco, drinking alcohol, or taking certain drugs during pregnancy can increase the chances of having a baby with a birth defect.

Viral infections -
Other maternal infections considered high risk during pregnancy include the Zika virus and cytomegalovirus.

Genetic disorders -
Having someone in your family with a birth defect likely increases the chances of a newborn entering the world with a birth anomaly. 

High temperature -
Experiencing a fever greater than 38.3°C (101°F) or having an elevated body temperature due to prolonged heat exposure can endanger an unborn child. 

Preventing birth defects -
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital in lowering the chances of having a baby with a birth defect. 

Neonatal screening -
Every baby is offered a thorough physical examination soon after birth, a procedure that serves as an important step towards identifying any abnormalities.

Living with a birth defect -
Birth defects may cause lifelong disability and illness, and their impact can be considerable. Indeed, having a child with a birth defect can affect the entire family.

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