Guide To Common Birth Defects In The US

Birth defects are commonly classified as any type of abnormality with a newborn child’s metabolism, physical structure, or overall bodily function. These issues occur as the child is developing inside of the mother, and are often undiagnosed until the child is born. Sadly, approximately 150,000 babies are born with some kind of birth defect in the United States each year. This equates to about three out of every one hundred babies that are born, and this statistic is only applicable to the US. It does not include other babies born worldwide. While it is not known what causes all types of birth defects, there are several different factors that can be attributed to them. Some of these factors include environment, the mother’s diet or what she consumes while pregnant, genetic defects, and several others. Each child is different, and the diagnosis differs as well, making it difficult for pediatricians and physicians to pinpoint exact causes. Some of the most common birth defects in the United States include spina bifida, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, various congenital heart defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and anencephaly. Parents of children with birth defects often have a difficult time understanding what caused the problems initially, and then they must spend their resources and time seeking out the right treatment. New treatments are often being developed in order to help newborns and young children cope with birth defects. Anything that can be done to improve someone’s overall quality of life is a step in the right direction.

Each type of birth defect comes with its own unique characteristics, and each one translates into different special needs for the child. The symptoms vary depending on the diagnosis, and some are more severe or chronic than others. In children with spina bifida, the spine itself did not develop properly. This can leave parts of the spinal cord and other nerves exposed. It can sometimes cause paralysis and other neurological disorders. For newborns with down syndrome, the body has produced too many chromosomes, which in turn causes the child to have a myriad of health problems and developmental issues. Down syndrome also affects the way a child looks, and has a tremendous impact on their mental development. Children with cerebral palsy also must cope with developmental and muscle problems. Babies who are born with cerebral palsy have difficulties controlling their muscles, making walking difficult even as they get older. Babies with congenital heart defects are usually born with a myriad of heart related problems. These problems can often be dangerous if not treated correctly. Sometimes congenital heart defects are a result of the mother having a poor diet while pregnant, but many times the cause is unknown. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a result of the mother consuming heavy amounts of alcohol while pregnant. This can result in the child experiencing a myriad of problems as a baby and later in life. Some of these issues include poor vision, difficulty with balance, learning disorders, and even heart defects. The problems children experience are not reversible, and as a result, they are something they will be forced to deal with throughout their lives. This applies to all other birth defects as well. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect and is typically fatal. It is a very difficult birth defect for parents to deal with and affects the newborn’s skull and spine.


Spina Bifida



Down Syndrome


Cerebral Palsy



Congenital heart defects


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)