When a woman gets pregnant, she might feel all kinds of things. She could feel nervous or excited. If she plans on having the child, she’ll be thinking about how her life will change in the immediate future.
However, one universality is that all women want a healthy baby. That’s why most of them try to live a healthy lifestyle while pregnant, avoiding alcohol, smoking, etc.
Expecting mothers don’t like to think about the possibility of congenital disabilities, but they sometimes occur. Here are some of the more dangerous ones about which pregnant women should know.
Congenital Heart Defects
Birth defects are terrifying for parents, and congenital heart defects are right up at the top of the list. These defects might include:
- Leaky valves
- Defective vessels
- A hole in the heart
It’s true that a baby will more likely have a strong, healthy heart if the mother takes care of her body during the pregnancy. Sometimes, though, these defects occur naturally, not because of anything the mother did or didn’t do.
Symptoms for these defects might include swollen organs or body tissue, failure to develop normally or feed, breath shortness, or blue-tinted skin. Treatments might consist of a heart transplant, medications, surgery, catheter devices, or heart devices.
Which of these might be possible will depend entirely on the damage.
Down syndrome is another birth defect with which most people are familiar. It is a genetic chromosome disorder. It causes intellectual delays and developmental ones.
Doctors detect Down syndrome from:
- Developmental delays
- Intellectual disabilities
- A distinct facial appearance
To determine whether your infant has Down syndrome, medical specialists will conduct screenings. There are early intervention programs that exist which can determine the extent of your child’s learning disabilities, if any.
When the child is older, they might need placement in special classes if they cannot learn at the same rate as other children.
Neural Tube Defects
The neural tube forms a child’s early spine and brain. It follows that it needs the correct functionality if your baby is going to come out healthy.
Doctors refer to neural tube defects as NTDs. They occur when the neural tube does not close as it should. They happen early in a pregnancy. Sometimes, the mother does not even know that she’s expecting yet.
Spina bifida is one such defect. Another is anencephaly. The first is a spinal cord defect, and the second is a brain defect.
A way to combat these issues is through consuming folic acid. Doctors instruct women who are trying to get pregnant to consume 400 mg of folic acid every day. Several possible food sources allow you to get enough.
Hemoglobin disorders fall into two categories: thalassemia and sickle-cell disease. These are disorders that the child inherits. They are blood diseases that impact the hemoglobin amount or quality.
If a child has one, then their oxygen does not circulate through the body as well as it should. This disease is particularly prevalent in lower-income countries. The most common way for a child to get one of these disorders is if both parents have the trait gene.
Most carriers lead normal, healthy lives. However, with sickle-cell disease, a shorter lifespan is possible.
In other cases, the individual who has it lacks plasticity. This causes blockages in small blood vessels, and other possibilities are anemia, necrosis, severe bacterial infections, or acute pain. Individuals from Italy, Greece, Middle Eastern countries, and Cyprus seem prone to these disorders.
In other cases, there are physical malformations that fall into the congenital disability category. Some examples might be a twisted limb, such as an arm or leg that remains shriveled and doesn’t ever function quite as it should.
There are rarely genetic indicators for these instances. They seem to happen at random, and often, the afflicted individual learns to live with them. In extreme cases, they might use a prosthesis or train that part of the body to be more useful through specialized physical therapy.
In all cases, when a woman is pregnant, she should contact a medical professional as soon as possible so they can examine her thoroughly. She can talk to the doctor about any family congenital disability history, and the doctor can give her advice as to how she should conduct herself.
The best chance to avoid birth defects is for the expectant mother to exercise, eat a proper diet, and avoid smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs.