What Are the Causes of Birth Defects?

Before thinking about the causes of birth defects you should know that every year there are about 7.9 million babies born with some kind of birth defect.

Almost half of these babies will be disabled. In the same time these birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality.

Causes of Birth Defects

Chromosomal abnormalities as birth defects causes

The genetic makeup of people gets determined at conception and this is the time when the majority of the birth defects occur. In this period the chromosomal abnormalities appear such as duplications and deletions of segments or entire chromosomes. Sometimes the babies with such abnormalities aren’t carried to term.

When thinking about the origins of birth defects you should know that the most common defects include Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome and Patau syndrome. These conditions result in serious disabilities. The babies with Patau or Edwards syndrome die soon after birth.

Single gene defects

If you are interested in the causes of birth defects you should know that these defects are inherited. For instance there is phenylketonuria that can be inherited. There are a lot of single gene defects that are prevalent among given ethnic groups.

For instance, when it comes to the birth defects origins you should know that sickle-cell anemia is common among people with Indian, Mediterranean and African descent while Sandhoff and Tay-Sachs are more common among the Ashkenazi Jews.

Multifactorial influences

In some cases the causes of birth defects consist of a combination of genetic mutations and this is when we are referring to multifactorial influences. At the moment the exact cause of these birth defects are not known, but the doctors recognize common treads. For instance folate deficiency can cause neural tube malformations.

In case you are thinking about the sources of birth defects it is good to know that the neural tube defects were also linked to trisomy 18. The most severe kind of neural tube defect is anencephaly. In this case there is a part of the brain missing and the babies affected usually are stillborn.

Prenatal environment

The women thinking about causes of birth defects should know that no matter what they do, their actions have a direct effect on the baby. This means that the mother’s diet, health, exercise and even environment affect the baby. If the mother is exposed to toxins, most probably the baby will have health problems.

One of the most well-known cases regarding the birth defects sources is the case of Agent Orange. This is a herbicide that is very dangerous for pregnant women. It contains dioxin that interferes with the function of the nuclear receptors, affecting cell signaling. This is a substance that takes a lot of time to dissolve.

The sad truth about the causes of birth defects is that in some cases the exact cause is not known. However usually there is some information available. You have to remember that except for the environmental factors, you can’t control the appearance or severity of the defects.


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