News Article
3 Most Common

Birth Defects

Birth defects are a major fear for any parent. Having a baby who is born with a birth injury or defect can potentially affect every aspect of the child's life. Some birth defects are milder and may not even be detectable until later in life, whereas others lead to high infant mortality or persistent disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 of every 33 babies or roughly 3% has a birth defect. This means that approximately 120,000 babies every year suffer from some form of birth injury.

Here are the most common types of birth defects:

1. Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)

These birth defects include issues with the formation of the baby's heart. This variety is the most common and affects 1% of births. While a heart defect is present at birth, it may be subtle enough that doctors fail to detect it until later when they hear a murmur on a heart exam. There are several common types of congenital heart defects:

  • Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect. Both of these birth defects involve a hole in the baby's heart, between either the upper chambers (atria) or the lower chambers (ventricles).
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus. This condition occurs when the connection between the heart's main arteries fails to close after birth. This leaves a hole in the arteries.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot. This is the most common and is a combination of four issues. It involves pulmonary stenosis (a narrower heart valve than normal), a large ventricular septal defect, an aorta placed just above this hole in the heart, and right ventricular hypertrophy (tougher muscles in the right ventricle).

2. Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

Neural tube defects, which become brain or spinal cord issues, affect over 300,000 newborns each year. A baby with this type of birth defect will usually require special care for the rest of their life. A lack of folic acid intake during pregnancy can increase this risk, as can certain antiseizure medications. Doctors most commonly detect a neural tube birth defect with prenatal tests.

The most common NTD is spina bifida, which affects 1 in 1,500 births. In this condition, the backbone does not fully close around the spinal cord. This leaves the spinal cord exposed and usually leads to leg paralysis and urinary issues. An even more severe type of NTD is anencephaly, which is when a baby does not have a fully developed brain. These infants die shortly after birth.

3. Chromosomal Abnormalities

Rather than affecting physical structures, these kinds of birth defects impact a baby's chromosomes. Each person is born with 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosomal defects can occur if there is a missing or extra chromosome. It can also happen when one or both of the chromosomes have some form of damage.

Trisomy disorders are instances where there are three chromosomes instead of two within a pair. This means that an individual affected by this disorder has 47 instead of 46 chromosomes. Trisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome, is the most well-known and involves facial abnormalities and developmental delays. Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13 are also common. These babies have frail bodies, with the potential for a cleft palate or cleft lip. 90% of these infants will die in the first year.

Birth defects can affect multiple parts of the body and can have life-long consequences. The chance of having a baby with a birth defect increases based on certain risk factors. Anything from improperly prescribed medication to medical negligence and malpractice can contribute. At Grabb & Durando, our personal injury lawyers will examine your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 520.222.2222 and let us fight for you!