Birth Defects Essay

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Birth Defects Research Paper
Professor Goshe
Survey of Health Issues

Professor Gosh

Survey of Healthy Behaviors
17 October 2012

Birth Defects
Birth Defect: “A physical or biochemical abnormality that is present at birth and that may be inherited or the result of environmental influence” (Google Dictionary). Birth defects are the leading cause of infant’s deaths during the first year of life. Birth defects are both common and rare. There are hundreds of birth defects that have been discovered and diagnosed. The precautions doctors tell every pregnant woman are to prevent birth defects. Birth defects are caused due to genetics or lifestyle choices and environmental influences. Birth defects may be caused from or influenced by smoking, alcohol use, inbreeding, drug use, and even caffeine. There are many more causes of birth defects known diagnosed. Smoking while pregnant raises a child’s birth defect risk. A child may be born with the intestines hanging on the outside of the body or even have a closed or block anus. Smoking while carrying a child can cause the infant to have problems with its throat, esophagus, colon, intestine, bile ducts, gall bladder, and liver once it is born. A serious problem that may occur when smoking while carrying a child is the problem that the child may not be getting enough oxygen when the mother smokes. Thus, shorting the oxygen levels to the infants’ brain preventing it to develop correctly, mentally and physically. It is stressed that pregnant woman stay away from harmful chemicals and poisons while pregnant. A common chemical that is associated with causing birth defects in prenatal infants is ‘Agent Orange’. The poisonous chemical in Agent Orange called, dioxin, is the key ingredient in causing birth defects in infants. This chemical comes from a herbicidal that could be passed to humans through the air or consumed. There are many environmental toxins that are in the environment that doctors encourage pregnant woman to avoid. These environmental toxins are things such as gardening products, pesticides, herbicides, and many other chemicals in the environment. Alcohol consumption is also a leading cause in the rising number of birth defects reported in prenatal infants. Alcohol consumptions in pregnant woman may cause fetal alcohol syndrome. A syndrome caused when too much alcohol is consumed by the pregnant woman. Abnormalities of major organs, abnormal facial features, and mental retardation are the common birth defects that stem from alcohol use/abuse while pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, cause you to have a premature birth, and a stillbirth. When a woman is pregnant with a child she is encourage not to consume anything harmful to the baby due to the fact that whatever the mother eats/drinks, so does the prenatal infant. Alcohol can also cause your baby to have learning disabilities (including intellectual disabilities), have sleeping problems, have speech and language delays, and also have behavioral problems. (March of Dimes, 2012) A woman’s weight before and during pregnancy should be watched very closely due to the fact that obtaining an unhealthy weight during pregnancy can cause birth defects in an unborn child. “Pre-pregnancy obesity has previously been linked to an increase in birth defects involving the brain and spinal cord”,... ‘researchers also reported an increase in heart, limb, and gastrointestinal birth defects among babies born to obese moms.” (WebMD, 2007) It is not guaranteed that a child born to an obese mother will be born with a major birth defect. Obese women can be more at risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect. A woman with diabetes must control her diabetes for they give a higher risk of potentially giving the infant diabetes as well or a birth defect. Maternal obesity has been linked to the development of neural tube defects, spina bifida, heart defects, cleft