What are birth malformations? You may have heard the term before, but what do they actually mean and why should you care about them? Birth malformations can be caused by many factors, including genetics and environmental influences. In this article, we’ll explore some of the facts and myths surrounding birth malformations to provide an informative look at these health issues.
A birth malformation is a medical term for any physical abnormality in the way an infant’s body develops before or at birth. These abnormalities are also referred to as congenital defects, meaning that they occur while the child is still developing inside its mother’s uterus or during delivery itself. Birth malformations can be caused by many factors, including genetics and environmental influences.
What do birth malformations look like? Birth malformation symptoms can vary from person to person, but below are some of the most common ones:
- a missing or extra portion of an organ such as intestines, stomachs, lungs etc. (as in gastroschisis)
- clubbed fingers and toes (this is known as polydactyly)
- abnormal positioning of organs inside the body cavity\stomach area (e.g., diaphragm defect), which may cause breathing problems due to compression on other internal structures (an example would be tracheoesophageal fistula)
- abnormal skull or facial features such as cleft lip, cleft palate.
- delayed development of teeth and nails (prenatal tooth agenesis). In some cases this may be accompanied by severe intellectual disability (e.g., Miller syndrome).