Birth Defects

birth defects, abnormalities in physical or mental structure or function that are present at birth. They range from minor to seriously deforming or life-threatening. A major defect of some type occurs in approximately 3% of all births. Defects may be genetic in origin, as in Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell disease, and hemophilia, or may be the result of infections, such as rubella and sexually transmitted diseases. Other teratogenic (malformation-causing) agents include drugs or hormones taken by the mother (e.g., thalidomide and DES) and maternal illnesses (e.g., diabetes). The mother's nutrition, drinking (see fetal alcohol syndrome), smoking, and drug abuse, as well as exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation, can also affect the developing fetus. Smoking, drugs, toxic chemicals, and the like can also damage the father's sperm, which may pass on the defect to the embryo in fertilization. The incidence of some disorders is elevated when the mother or father is older, which increases the likelihood of age-related gene mutations. Certain birth defects can now be detected prenatally through amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Surgical procedures to correct certain disorders before birth are still considered experimental.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Birth Defects: Selected full-text books and articles

Environmental Factors in Birth Defects: What We Need to Know By Weinhold, Bob Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 117, No. 10, October 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Health Consequences of Smoking--50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General By Office of the Surgeon General United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General., 2014
Prescription Opioids: Is There a Risk for Birth Defects? By Chambers, Christina D Clinical Psychiatry News, Vol. 44, No. 8, August 2016
Off to a Good Start: The Influence of Pre- and Periconceptional Exposures, Parental Fertility, and Nutrition on Children's Health By Chapin, Robert E.; Robbins, Wendie A.; Schieve, Laura A.; Sweeney, Anne M.; Tabacova, Sonia A.; Tomashek, Kay M Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, No. 1, January 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Birth Defects and Mothers' Proximity to Natural Gas Development: Is There a Connection? By Konkel, Lindsey Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 122, No. 4, April 2014
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Screening the Genes: Low- and Middle-Income Countries Are Catching Up on the Use of Screening for Birth Defects By Parry, Jane Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 90, No. 8, August 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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