Fetal Anatomical Defects

Being pregnant is a time of joyous wonder but can also pose a great deal of anxiety. There is a brand new world of exciting possibilities but also a world filled with common fears and doubt. You may be worried that your child will have some sort of health condition or problem. There are 4000 different kinds of birth defects ranging from common structural defects of the human anatomy, like cleft lip and club feet, to genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome. Every year about 150,000 babies are born with anatomical defects in the United States.

However, not all anatomical defects are the same. Thanks to advances in modern surgery, many can be repaired shortly after birth.

What are Common Birth Defects?
The most common birth defects are cleft lip or palate, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, anencephaly, heart defects, and cerebral palsy. Birth defects can be caused by a number of factors including genetics, chromosomal problems, environmental hazards, lack of certain nutrients, alcohol or drug abuse, infections or diseases. However, a large majority of birth defects have no known cause. According to the March of Dimes, 60% birth defect cases are of a mysterious origin.

Cleft Lip or Palate
Cleft lip or palate is a common birth defect that results from the abnormal growth of the mouth or lip tissues in the womb. A cleft lip is an opening between the upper lip and the nose while a cleft palate is an opening between the mouth roof and the nasal passage. Cleft lips or palates occur in one in 700 to 1000 babies born in the United States. This structural defect is known to happen frequently in Asian, Latino or Native American children. It can be repaired after birth with surgery. Most doctors prefer to repair a cleft lip by three months of age. A cleft palate is usually repaired between nine and 18 months of age. Your doctor will work with a team of specialists for individualized treatment of your child.

Club Foot
Club Foot refers to an abnormal growth of the foot and ankle in unborn babies. Club feet have an occurrence rate of one in 735 babies every year. In babies with club feet, the feet usually turn in or point down and the range of motion in the club foot is limited. Club feet are administered to by an experienced physician within the first week of life through casts or surgery. Club feet can be detected in utero by ultrasound and boys are twice as likely to be affected than girls.

Table of Contents
1. Fetal Anatomical Defects
2. What can go wrong
3. Suspect a birth defect?
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