Some babies are born with certain abnormalities, which are present at the time of the birth of the baby. These are known congenital abnormalities. These abnormalities are a result of problems, while the baby was developing in the fetus or because of complications during labor. These may be hereditary abnormalities. The causes of more than half of the congenital abnormalities in human are unknown. They are referred to as sporadic, which implies an unknown cause in medical terms. Given below are a few common congenital abnormalities that may be seen in babies.
Congenital Abnormalities in Babies
In this condition, there is a raw swelling over a portion of the spine at birth. This results in paralysis of the legs (either partial or complete), inability to control bladder functioning and inability to feel anything below the spina bifida. In some cases, there is a build up and retention of water in the brain, which is known as hydrocephalus. This swelling can be closed by an operation by specialists.
In this condition, parts of the digestive system are lying outside the stomach cavity. This is because the area around the navel is not very strong. Normally, cases of umbilical hernias around the navel heal on their own; if they don’t, surgery is required.
Sickle cell disease
This is a hereditary condition that is most commonly found among people of West African or African Caribbean descent. The hemoglobin in the red blood corpuscles disintegrates at a quicker rate than normal. Hemoglobin is important, as it carries oxygen to the different parts of the body. Reduction in hemoglobin causes anemia and blocks blood vessels in the hands, legs and stomach. An attack can last for a few days and can be treated with painkillers. This is also known as Sickle Cell disease.
This is another hereditary illness, in which the tissues in the body produce unusually thick mucus. The commonly affected organs are the lungs, the intestines and pancreas. If the lungs are affected, the air ducts are blocked and hence, vulnerable to infection. Children with this condition have an inability to digest food completely and have bad smelling bowel movements and constipation. They are well below the normal weight for their age. This illness has no cure, but if detected in the initial stages, lung damage can be reduced. These children are susceptible to chest infections and have to be treated with antibiotics. Chest physiotherapy is required regularly to remove thick phlegm.
In this condition, the child's intestine reacts strongly to gluten, a protein found in wheat. These children have a severe case of diarrhea, where the stools are fatty, pale and don't flush away. The child does not put on weight as required. The illness can be detected by a blood test. After being detected, the child will have to completely give up gluten containing food. Once this is done, stools return to normal and the child will put on weight.
In this condition, the foot curves inwards or outwards. All babies are checked for this at birth, more so, if they were born in the breech position, as it occurs more frequently with these babies. Often, they can be manipulated into the proper position, with little or no treatment. Surgery may be required in severe cases. This condition is also known as Talipes.
In this condition, the cleft lip and the cleft palate are fused, thus the baby cannot be breast-fed. Various support groups will help you deal with the situation and corrective plastic surgery is possible.
Congenital dislocation of the hip
All babies are screened for this condition at birth and when they are eight weeks old. If this condition goes undetected, walking can become a problem later in life. If diagnosed with this problem, the baby will have to wear a special splint for sometime. Most recover without having to be operated on, but some do need an operation. This condition is prevalent more among girls and breech babies.
In this condition, the parts of the brain that control body movements are damaged. This can happen before birth, during birth, or in the first two years after birth. In some cases, damage may not be noticed at birth, but as the child grows, it becomes evident. It is difficult to pinpoint as to what causes this damage. There are a few tests that can be conducted when the baby is eight weeks old to screen him for cerebral palsy.