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Birth Defects - Essay Example

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Formation of a baby after conception is the most amazing act of nature. Advances in medical sciences in last hundred years or so have unfolded the intricacies of human birth to a great extent; however, one cannot ignore the fact that one in every 80 babies is born with some kind of a birth defect. …
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Birth Defects
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Download file to see previous pages The paper aims at exploring some of the potent birth defects that are plaguing the mankind; probable causes behind these birth defects and the measures that can be applied to prevent the birth defects in newborns. Current Scenario in the UK Smith (2011) argues that one in 80 babies suffers some kind of a birth defect in the UK such as Down's syndrome or neural tube defects such as spina bifida or congenital heart disease. The surprising part is that the proportion of birth defects in the newborns has almost doubled from the previous estimate. The rise in numbers is purely attributed to a better data collection system and nothing else. In 2009, there were, as per the researchers’ estimate, 14,500 babies with some sort of birth defects in England and Wales. By the way, London had the highest cases of Down's syndrome (34 per 10,000 children) then among major towns. Heart disorder is found to be the most common birth defect among the newborns in the UK needing surgery. At least six percent of newborns with heart disease are not likely to survive. Spina bifida or neural tube defects are found in at least one in 1,000 babies and doctors say that the birth defects could have been simply prevented if mothers were given folic acid in adequate quantity during pregnancy. Similarly, cleft lip or palate is found to be in 15.2 babies per 10,000; Edwards’ syndrome in seven per 10,000 and Patau’s syndrome in two per 10,000 babies of England and Wales. At least, 50 percent of the defects were detected during pregnancy itself. It is noteworthy that numbers of birth defects due to Down's syndrome are increasing perhaps due to pregnancy incidents at higher age (Smith, 2011). Birth Defects due to External Agents Chiras (2012) emphasises that most birth defects are caused due to some sort of chemical, physical or biological agents. Dietary deficiency of folic acid also plays a pivotal role in birth defects. The time of exposure to any of these agents play a crucial role in causing a birth-defect. Organ systems are the most affected parts due to the exposure to any of harmful agent. The central nervous system is more at risk because it starts developing during the third week of pregnancy – a time when woman is not even aware that she is pregnant. Women in the habit of consuming alcohol or drugs are most likely to harm central nervous system, heart, limbs and eyes of the baby as these organs start developing as early as third week of pregnancy. Birth Defect Classifications Broadly, birth defects can be classified into two kinds: Functional and Structural. Functional birth defect relates with the abnormal functioning of some body part. Mental retardation, learning disabilities, speech difficulties are the brain defects that indicate about the functional impairment. Examples of birth defects pertaining to nervous system include Down’s syndrome, autism, and Fragile X syndrome. Metabolic disorders such as phynylketonuria (PKU) or hypothyroidism are examples of functional disorder. Cleft lip or palate, spina bifida are the examples of Structural birth defects. Missing heart valve, abnormal limbs such as a club foot also fall in this category. Some of the birth defects that follow will explain how they impair body’s normal functioning and learning abilities. Down’s syndrome Down's syndrome is a congenital disorder impacting physical and mental growth of the child. The children with Down's syndrome are also found to be impacted with high incidence of heart disease, hearing or vision issues, Alzheimer's disease. Down's syndrome is found more in boys (by 15%) than girls. More incidences of Down' syndrome is noticed at the places where mothers give births at higher age. Mother with age 45 or above carries the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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