Birth Defects

Newborn Babies - Birth Defects

A birth defect is an abnormality that occurs in the development of the body, its function, or its chemical or metabolic makeup. Birth defects may result in physical or mental disability, and some can be fatal. There are over 4,000 known birth defects. Other terms used for birth defects include congenital abnormalities, anomalies, and malformations.

Birth defects may be caused by genetic (inherited) problems or by environmental factors such as exposure to certain toxic substances. Some birth defects can be linked to a direct cause. Other reasons are not as clear. Over two-thirds of birth defects have unknown causes.

Some birth defects are more common than others, include the following:

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