Birth Defects In Child – Is It a Fault of Mom !!!!!!



Arrival of an angel in the family is one of the most precious moment in lives of both the parents and grandparents. We all wish our angel to be most charming and adorable. Sometimes the angel may be most charming and adorable, but not normal. This fact takes away the joy of arrival of the angel and leads to a panic situation. This is due to our unpreparedness to deal with this situation. This is secondary to our ignorance regarding common birth defects and its possible remedies. Birth defect in child may vary from simple birth mark to a very severe involvement of baby’s body, limbs and occasionally internal organs. Babies with severe birth defects are not compatible with life and hence they abort earlier in pregnancy. The birth defects can be external and visible at birth like limb and spinal defects, facial defects or can be internal like heart, kidney, abdomen and brain defects which are not obvious but can be diagnosed by doctor.  Few birth defects may not be easily identifiable at birth may become obvious at later age. In our country it is believed that the birth defects are caused due to some faulty habits or some wrong doings by the mother. In fact, exact cause of majority of the birth defects is still illusive to modern medical science. Elderly people in our society still believe that limb defects takes place due to mother sleeping on particular side during her pregnancy. Till date few people associate birth defects to some eating habits of pregnant lady. In fact, all these are not true and have no scientific basis.


Facts and myths

  • As mentioned earlier even the medical science is unaware of the exact cause of the birth defect in majority cases. In such cases doctors float multiple theories which are probable causes, but are yet to be confirmed!
  • It is now well known that lack of folic acid in diet of mother when she is planning to conceive can lead to problem known as Neutral Tube Defect or Meningomyelocele.
  • The birth defects can be genetic in nature and the faulty genes may come either from father or mother and hence it is entirely unjustified to blame only mother for it.
  • It is well known that excessive smoking, consumption of alcohol can affect developing baby.
  • Taking some drugs (known as teratogenic drugs, like thalidomide used for morning sickness in past or substance abuse), exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals can lead to birth defects.  Exposure to these harmful agents can cause permanent damage to internal organs of fetus.
  • Some viral infections of mother (like rubella) can severely affect fetus, this can be prevented by taking proper vaccination as advised by your doctor.
  • Some maternal diseases like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid problems may affect the fetus hence it is very important to inform about these problems to your doctor.




Majority of the birth defects cannot be prevented. Mother can improve chances of having a healthy baby by taking proper nutritious food, timely vaccinations, getting proper treatment of her medical problems and infection in time. She must discuss her health problems openly with her physician, as hiding the medical problem can affect her child. Prevention can partly be done by early diagnosis of the problem. Ultrasonography is a very potent investigation to detect birth defect in initial months of pregnancy. Ultrasonography can diagnose majority of limb defects, spine defects, heart problems, brain problems and kidney problems.  Doctor may advise termination of pregnancy in babies with multiple problems and in birth defects which may require multiple surgeries and involves prolong suffering, provided they are diagnosed in early part of pregnancy.


The limb and spine defects, face defects and some abdominal defects are obvious at birth, but generally after the birth paediatrician will carry out detailed examination of the child and if any abnormality is found, some investigations are ordered to confirm the problem. After confirmation of the problem your paediatrician will guide you to respective specialist. It is very important for the parents to discuss with specialist various details of treatment like, when to start, course of action and duration of treatment, expense involved, need for multiple specialists and ultimate outcome of the problem. One may seek detailed information about the birth defect from web and in some cases support groups available on net and in community. One must be realistic regarding the final outcome and should provide emotional support to the angel during the treatment period and thereafter during the rehabilitation.   The most common limb anomaly is club foot (deformity in which foot looks like a golf stick also known as golf club). For detailed information of clubfoot please click on:









To find more information on Birth Defects and it prevention you can contact our Childbirth Educator at :

Dr. Premal Naik

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