Congenital anomalies also called as birth defects are the conditions that occur while the baby is developing in the mother’s body. Thanks to early detection of these anomalies through newer diagnostic tests, there are fewer newborns with congenital problems. Congenital anomaly may affect how the body develops and how it functions. Birth defects can range from being mild to severe; they can cause disabilities and sometimes even death.
Congenital anomalies can be due following factors:
Genetic factors: Every cell in the body has chromosomes containing genes that determine a person's unique characteristics. One missing or faulty gene can cause a birth defect. The number or structure of chromosomes also can cause congenital defects. An error during the formation of an egg can cause a baby to be born with too few or too many chromosomes, or with a damaged chromosome. Congenital anomalies caused by chromosome problems include Down syndrome. The risk of this type of congenital defect often increases with the age of the mother. One more type of genetic abnormality is called sex-linked, and generally is passed on to boys only. Girls may carry the abnormal gene that causes these disorders but not show the actual disease for example-hemophilia, color blindness, and the common forms of muscular dystrophy.
Certain illnesses during pregnancy, particularly during the first nine weeks, can cause serious congenital abnormalities—German measles and diabetes, for example. Alcohol consumption and certain drugs during pregnancy significantly increase the risk that a baby will be born with abnormalities.
Certain medications, if taken during pregnancy, also can cause permanent damage to the fetus, as can certain chemicals that can pollute air, water, and food. Always check with your doctor before using any medication or supplement while you are pregnant.
Combination of Genetic and Environmental factors:
Spina bifida and cleft lip and palate are types of congenital anomalies that may occur when there is a genetic tendency for the condition combined with exposure to certain environmental influences within the womb during critical stages of the pregnancy.
The vast majority of congenital anomalies have no known cause. This situation particularly bothers the parents who plan to have more children, because there is no way to predict if the problem will recur. . Birth defect can happen even if you or your partner has no history of birth defects in your families or if you've had healthy children in the past. But early detection of birth defect is possible with the help of 4Dultrasound which is the advanced ultrasound technique.