Birth Defects And Diseases
While all parents want to have a healthy baby, birth defects and diseases do occur from time to time. Fortunately, not all birth defects are fatal or extremely harmful to the baby. The type of treatment available to the baby depends on the severity of the birth defect or disease. Some babies recover or go on to live relatively normal lives while others will not survive past infancy.
- Cleft Palate About one out of every 700 babies born in the United States suffer from a cleft palette, meaning the baby has an open area between the top of his mouth and the nasal cavity. While either genetics or enviromental factors seem to play a role in whether an infant will have a cleft palette, the exact cause of the birth defect isn't known. The condition can be repaired with surgery.
- Spinal Bifada Pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant are encouraged to get enough folic acid in an attempt to prevent spinal bifada, a type of neural tube defect. When a baby has spinal bifada, the spinal cord is not completely enclosed within the spinal column, which can cause paralysis or death in some cases. While the condition can be repaired in utero, babies with spinal bifada may not survive birth or may die shortly after.
- Genital Herpes While herpes can be manageable in adults, the disease can be deadly for babies. If the mother passes herpes to the baby during birth, he can suffer brain damage or cerebral palsy. In some cases, the infection in babies can lead to death.
- Cystic Fibrosis Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the baby's ability to move chloride around the cells of the body. CF commonly affects a child's breathing ability, as a thick mucus builds up in the lungs. The condition is caused by a gene. About 25 percent of children whose parents both carry the gene will get the condition.
- Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is another genetic birth defect that results in anemia. Babies born with sickle cell disease have abnormally shaped red blood cells, which prevents them from storing enough iron in the blood. The condition is more common in African-American babies. About one out of every 500 African-American babies will have sickle cell disease. The condition can be treated with antibiotics and bone marrow transplants.