Congenital Deformity – Types, Causes, and Treatments

Many babies are born with birth defects. When a baby has disorder or deformity by birth, it is known as a congenital deformity. Fortunately, such issues of newborns can be resolved through surgical solutions. The babies can lead a normal life without any physical and emotional complications when they grow up. However, these deformities vary from mild to severe when it comes to the impact on child’s health and development.

Causes of congenital deformity

In most of the cases, an exact cause of the birth defects is difficult to pinpoint. However, it generally believed that some genetic and environmental factors play a role. So, many factors may be responsible for the birth deformities.

When it comes to genetic and inherited causes, chromosomal defects are considered first. This defect is the reason when too many or too few chromosomes play their role in forming the body cells of a baby. Down syndrome is the defect mainly associated with the issues with the structure of the chromosomes of parents. An extra copy of chromosome 21 and abnormalities of sex chromosomes are main causes of the genetic defects in a baby.

There may be single gene defects when a mutation of one gene can cause the defect. In some cases, one parent passes a single faulty gene to the baby causing the abnormality such as achondrolasia and Marfan syndrome.

In other cases, the parents do not have the disease, but they somehow pass the gene that causes the defect in the child. Cystic fibrosis is one such deformity.

Some other factors such as the use of drugs or alcohol by the parent can also cause the birth defects.  A combination of environmental and genes factors can also contribute heavily towards the deformities. Certain heart defects and neural tube defects fall into this category.

Types of congenital deformity and treatment

The congenital hand anomaly is, in fact, common across any population across the globe. This is because there are many types of congenital anomalies, malformations, or defects. The defects present at birth are many. There are as many such anomalies as there are causes. So, right from pregnancy to birth complications and generic malformations to viral infections, there are many reasons and deformities.

So, for example, if a baby is born with a missing or malformed body part, it is known as a structural birth defect. Amongst such defects, heart defects are the most common. Other structural defects include cleft palate, congenital dislocated hip, spina bifida, and clubfoot. Sever congenital deformities are neural tube defects, down syndrome, and heart defects.

Here are some common congenital disorders

Cleft lip and cleft palate

The surgeon makes an incision on both sides of the cleft to create flaps of tissues. Then, the flaps are stitched together along with lip muscles to create a normal lip appearance. For cleft palate repair multiple procedures can be adapted to make the lip roof of the mouth, depending on the child’s condition.

Down syndrome

Treatment of Down syndrome at depends on the condition of the child. There is no single treatment. In fact, many health professionals work on a child with Down syndrome. So, a physician, special educator, physical therapist, occupational therapists, speech therapists and even social workers may be working on an individual with this defect.

Cerebral palsy

A baby born with cerebral palsy has poor control over muscles, reflexes, and postures, and feels floppy when picked up. There is no permanent treatment at present for this defect. But multiple treatments such as physical therapy and speech therapy are given.

Spina bifida

Spina bifida is a birth deformity that affects the spinal column. This anomaly progresses from a cleft in the backbones known also as the spinal vertebrae. Most people do not require treatment at all for spina bifida occulta. But children with meningocele may require removal of the cyst surgically.

Fragile X syndrome

Fragile x syndrome is the defect that pertains to the child’s intellectual development. The child has larger head circumference and some disproportionate facial features.  The defects are passed down genetically by parent. There is no cure for the FXS and teachers, doctors, family members, therapists and coaches can help child learn skills.

Heart conditions

Another common birth deformity is a congenital heart disease, which is related to the structure of the heart in the baby. The causes of congenital heart defects are many including environmental and genetic. The treatment depends on the type of the defects. The doctor can choose to implant heart devices, use medications, catheter procedure, or open heart surgery.

Besides these defects, other common birth defects in babies include cystic fibrosis, achondrolasia, Marfan syndrome, and cystic fibrosis. The treatment will be according to the severity of the defects.

Children’s is a place where we can write the greatest children’s stories ever told.

Sandra L. Fenwick, Preside

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