Birth Defects - Birth Defects...

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Like most expectant parents, you probably alternate between fantasies about a healthy baby and worries that your baby will have a health problem. Or perhaps you've been told through prenatal screening that your baby may be born with a birth defect. Many parents assume that all birth defects are severe or even fatal, but the fact is that many are treatable, often immediately after birth — and sometimes even before the baby is born. It's especially important to know the risk factors involved and how to prevent birth defects. However, it's also important to realize that most babies born with congenital defects are born to two healthy parents. About Birth Defects Birth defects are defined as abnormalities of structure, function, or body metabolism that are present at birth. These abnormalities lead to mental or physical disabilities or are fatal. There are more than 4,000 different known birth defects, ranging from minor to serious, and although many can be treated or cured, they're the leading cause of death in the first year of life. According to the March of Dimes, about 150,000 babies are born with birth defects each year in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that 3 out of every 100 babies born in the United States have some kind of major birth defect. Birth defects can be caused by genetic, environmental, or unknown factors. Structural or metabolic defects are those that result when a specific body part is missing or formed incorrectly or when there is an inborn problem in body chemistry. The most common type of major structural defects are heart defects, which affect 1 in 100 babies in the United States. Other common structural defects include spina bifida and hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the male urethra (where urine exits from the penis) is in the wrong place. Metabolic defects affect 1 in 3,500 babies and usually involve a missing or incorrectly formed enzyme (a protein necessary for processing chemical substances in the body). This type of defect can be harmful or even fatal, but doesn't usually cause any visible abnormalities in the child. Metabolic defects include Tay-Sachs disease, a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system, and phenylketonuria (PKU), which affects the way the body processes protein. Defects caused by congenital infections result when a mother gets an infection before or during the pregnancy. Infections that can cause birth defects include rubella (German measles), cytomegalovirus (CMV), syphilis, toxoplasmosis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, parvovirus, and, Birth Defects .. 1 of 10
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This note was uploaded on 09/29/2010 for the course BIO 325 taught by Professor Bernadette-holdener,g during the Fall '08 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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Birth Defects - Birth Defects...

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