Preventing Birth Defects

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The prospect of starting a family or adding to an existing one brings unforgettable moments in a lifetime. Also, the process of picking out baby clothes, furniture, and creating a nursery can be rewarding and fun.

This can be a stressful and scary time in your life as well. Keeping track of eating the right foods, vitamins, and getting to all your appointments is necessary for the health of your baby, but can cause serious stress on you. However, the health of the baby is paramount, with the nightmare of birth defects looming if proper care isn’t taken.

A recent story has shed light on a woman who thought she had a tumor on her brain, but it ended up being a rare birth defect. Additionally, there are other more common defects to be aware of their causes. A birth defect can have varying degrees of difficulty on both parents and children, but many more common ones can be treated. Getting regular screenings and check-ups throughout your pregnancy can help identify and rectify problems early, and ensure the overall health of your newest family member.

Rare Birth Defects

Recently, Yamini Karanam, a student at Indian University started experiencing symptoms of being slightly disoriented, and going through long periods of extreme exhaustion. Fearing the worst, she sought medical help; doctors found what they thought was a cyst deep insider her brain. Many surgeons did not want to operate for fear they would kill her. That’s when she found Hrayr Shahinian MD, who specializes in these surgeries.

Yaminin received Keyhole surgery, where they make a small hole in the back of the head, through which the surgeon inserts an endoscope to remove tumor. What they found instead was a teratoma, which is a mass of hair, teeth, and other body parts. It is still up for some debate as to how these things get there, but mostly doctors agree it happens when the cells of an embryonic twin are absorbed into the developing brain of a fetus.

Out of 8,000 tumor procedures performed by Hryar Shahinian, this is only the 2nd one he has ever seen, which makes this an extremely rare birth defect. Another rare birth defect is albinism, where the skin and other cells lack pigmentation, making them extremely susceptible to skin diseases such as skin cancer.

Common Birth Defects

The most common birth defects that occur are heart defects, cleft lip and palate, spina bifida, and Down syndrome. A heart defect at birth can be fatal for an infant however, modern technology has increased the conditions that doctors can treat before the baby is even born.

Cleft lip and palate are also conditions that are very treatable. While they can cause issues during development, there are procedures that repair these birth defects. Unfortunately with Spina Bifida the most common form of the disease is also the most common. Myleomeningocelo is when the spinal cord doesn’t form right during development, which exposes the nerves to damage. This can cause paralysis and can even be fatal. Babies with this defect need surgery before birth.

Down syndrome has the potential to be the most severe common birth defect, as it is a conglomeration of defects. Affected persons many times have intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, as well as heart defects and other problems. Cases of Down syndrome can also be mild as it varies from patient to patient.

Keeping your Baby Healthy

With all of the problems that a baby with a birth defect could experience, it is important to stay up to date on the health of your baby during pregnancy. Getting regular screenings and checkups, as well as DNA testing can keep mother and baby healthy and help prepare for the arrival.

Pre-natal DNA testing is a topic that many new mothers are believing in. Some who are trying it are pregnant mothers 35 and older, who are at increased risks for genetic problems. In addition, many mothers whose babies develop birth defects blame themselves for the rest of their lives thinking they did something wrong. This could hopefully prevent women from blaming themselves for something they couldn’t prevent.

Also, knowing sooner rather than later about any problems that your new baby may have, can help things be less hectic when you bring them home. You’ll be prepared for any problems that may arise, and won’t be rushing around trying to accommodate a problem you weren’t aware of. While we all hope for happy and healthy babies, unfortunately that is not always the issue. Step up to date on your pregnancy to ensure you and your baby’s health.

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