Babies, when conceived, are usually born healthy but at times, there are chances of the baby being born with some sort of congenital abnormality/s. These birth defects are termed as congenital diseases – a condition that is present from birth – and more often than not, affect the way the baby looks, develops, or functions later on in life. Although in most cases these defects are quite evident & visible at the time of birth, in some instances, there is a likelihood of the disease manifesting later on –during childhood, adolescence or even after becoming an adult.
For example, a cleft lip is a condition which is quite obvious at the time of birth but haemophilia, on the other hand, only becomes evident when the child grows.
It also needs to be stated that there are certain congenital diseases which may be life-threatening or lead to lifelong physical and intellectual disabilities. That being said, congenital diseases are known to affect nearly 6 percent of new-borns worldwide while also accounting for 7 percent of all deaths among children under the age of 5 across the globe. Some of the common congenital disorders include:
In most cases, congenital diseases are as a result of genetic factors which affect the fetus way before the baby is conceived. While studies have revealed the cause of at least 50 percent of congenital diseases remains unknown, here are some of the other factors which can cause this disease:
Another point worth mentioning is that in the case of women, regardless of their age, there’s always an inherent risk of the development of a chromosome condition.
For individuals having a history of congenital diseases, it’s usually recommended to undergo a series of screening tests before the birth of the child. If the screening test is inconclusive, diagnostic tests such as blood tests, ultrasound scans, and urine tests are recommended to identify if the child is afflicted with the disease.
As stated before, more often than not, congenital diseases are caused by problems during the fetus’s development before birth. Which is why it’s imperative that parents try to stay as fit and healthy as possible along with good medical care before and during pregnancy in order to reduce the chances of the baby procuring any preventable congenital anomalies. Parents should also consider fixing an appointment with a genetic counselor to discuss their family’s medical history in detail.
Thanks to the advancements in medical science coupled with the advent of perinatal testing and new diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, etc., the chances of identifying any chromosomal and genetic related causes of congenital diseases before-hand have increased exponentially.
Listed below are certain preventive measures that should be undertaken by the parents before and during the pregnancy –
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