Common Birth Defects: What to Do When Your Child Is Born With One

Over 3 percent of children in the United States are born with a birth defect. If you are going through a situation where your unborn child or your baby has been diagnosed with a birth defect then you are not alone.

Birth defects are common and they can be treated. Take a look at some of the most common birth defects and let’s examine the types of treatments that are available.


1. Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects can happen when a mistake occurs while your baby is developing. It can be a result of genetic abnormalities as well. In fact, sometimes there are no visible symptoms of congenital heart failure.

The problem is often detected when doctors hear an abnormal heartbeat. If your child gets diagnosed with congenital heart disease you can seek treatment.

It is possible to correct the problem through heart surgery and even medication. In some cases, pacemakers can correct the abnormal heartbeat.

2. Club Foot

Clubfoot is a condition that many children are born with. If your child has been born with this defect in one or both feet, there are several options available to correct this.

The treatment options available vary based on the severity of the condition. If your child’s clubfoot is mild then there will usually not be any pain involved and the condition will not affect your baby until it is time to stand or walk.

Treatment usually involves forcing the foot in its correct position and assisting the child with various exercises. If the condition is severe then plaster casts can set the foot into its correct position. Special shoes may also be used along with splints and bandages.

In other cases, surgery along with special exercises are the treatment of choice.

3.  Spina Bifida

If your baby is diagnosed with Spina Bifida, it is likely to be because of a bad neural tube. The neural tube is what stops your baby’s backbone from closing during development in the womb.

Often this defect can be detected by tests that are given while you are pregnant. When the tests are positive your baby is likely to be delivered via a cesarian section so that there can be specialists at the birth.

The treatment for this usually involves surgery. The surgery is usually completed within 48 hours of your child’s birth.

After the surgery is complete, parents will be taught how to exercise the child’s legs as preparation for leg braces and crutches. However, even after surgery, some children with Spina Bifida will need a wheelchair.

4. Downs Syndrome

Your child may suffer chromosomal damage and be diagnosed with downs syndrome. Downs Syndrome can often be detected at birth and usually results in mental challenges for your child.

Visual and hearing impairments often occur in children with Downs Syndrome. The good news is that children with this birth defect can often learn how to walk and talk just like other children.

The important thing is not to limit your child if they are born with Downs Syndrome but to work to get whatever treatment is necessary to correct or help minimize the health challenges that come with this defect.

5. Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy affects the muscle tone of your child. It will also affect their motor skills and your child will be unable to move about in a coordinated manner.

This means your child may suffer from the following issues:

  • bladder control
  • bowel control
  • speech problems
  • breathing issues
  • eating problems
  • learning difficulties

The most common cause of cerebral palsy is damage that happens during development in the womb or at birth. If you feel your child may have suffered brain damage through negligence at birth by hospital staff, you should contact a cerebral palsy lawyer. This professional can assist you in filing a malpractice lawsuit.

Treatment for cerebral palsy varies. There may be physical therapy involved as well as speech therapy. Your child may also need a developmental therapist so that they can develop age-appropriate social skills.

Cerebral Palsy treatment may also involve child psychologists. This will help your child cope with the disability and its limitations without becoming angry or depressed.

6. PKU

PKU (phenylketonuria) is a birth defect that causes your child to have a missing protein enzyme. This enzyme is essential and controls the levels of the protein known as phenylalanine in the body.

If the enzyme is missing, excessive amounts of protein can develop in the bloodstream. Many products contain this protein and if it is not broken down effectively it can cause mental retardation.

Children are tested for this disease a few days after they are born because early detection is the key to controlling PKU.

Treatment for PKU involves dietary changes, so if your child has this disease, regulating their diet will help them to have a normal life. If your child has PKU it is likely that you will not be allowed to breastfeed or give them cow’s milk.

Instead, your doctor will ask you to feed your child a special formula to prevent the disease from causing any brain damage. Once your child gets older they can eat specific vegetables and fruits.

They will also be able to eat some grains. However, they will usually not be able to eat fish, chicken, and meats. Your doctor may also ask you to avoid giving them eggs and cheese.

Regular testing is normal if your child has PKU. This is because your doctor will want to know the levels of phenylalanine in the blood at all times. Adjustments to the diet will be necessary based on the results of these tests.

Final Thoughts on Common Birth Defects

It can be devastating when your child is diagnosed with any of the common birth defects mentioned. However, your reaction to it is the deciding factor in how well you will cope with it.

Most birth defects can be treated, even when elimination isn’t possible.

If your child is diagnosed with a birth defect do not panic. Instead, you should get informed and work with your doctor to ensure that your child lives as normal a life as possible.

Keep tabs on our blog for more useful tips.

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