It can be devastating for parents if their baby has a birth defect. But knowing the risk factors can help prevent this grave problem to some extent. The quantum of risk mainly depends on the mother’s age, medical history of both parents and indulging in practices like smoking, drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs during pregnancy.
Women over 35 at delivery are usually offered amniocentesis to check for a chromosome problem in the foetus. Other causes for birth defects are infections the pregnant woman may contract like rubella or STDs, exposure to radiation, lack of folic acid or consumption of certain prescription medicines.
According to an article titled Risk factors causing birth defects written by neonatal paediatrician Dr Nathan in www.babble.com, “Having had a previous fetus with genetic problems or birth defects may increase your risk of having a subsequent infant with a problem. The magnitude of the risk depends on the nature of the previous problem. If a previous foetus had a known genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis, subsequent children have a 25 percent risk (1 out of 4) of also having cystic fibrosis. For other problems, the risk of having a child with a similar problem could be as low as 3 out of 100.”
Certain chemicals in cosmetics like phthalates, taking acne medicine accutane, drinking water heavily disinfected with chlorine and consumption of caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy. Children born to women who are obese or who have diabetes during pregnancy are also prone to birth defects.
In general, the risk of having a baby with a birth defect is about 2%. Even if you are at low risk, there are screening tests that you should consider to take, to rule out the possibility.
To know more about the topic, read this ClipBook, which is a curation of useful links.
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