When a newborn has a birth defect, it is not just a life-changing issue for the child, but also for the parents. Many children need surgery and other extensive types of medical care to correct these defects. Doctors cannot correct some defects and the children will live with the ramifications for their entire lives.
Either way, the process can get very expensive, and it is also stressful and emotionally draining for the parents. It is important to learn all you can about birth defects if you find yourself in this position. Let’s start by exploring the two main categories that medical professionals use.
Structural birth defects
The first type of defect is the structural birth defect, and it occurs when one of the child’s body parts is malformed or missing entirely. It’s a physical issue that may be obvious — issues with hands or feet, for instance — but may also be hidden. In fact, the most common defect within this category is a heart defect. Doctors can often detect it even before birth, though the child will appear fine at birth.
Other types of structural defects include clubfoot, spina bifida, congenital dislocated hip and cleft palate. The type of care needed, and the odds that doctors can completely fix the issue, vary greatly from one case to the next. As with many medical issues, the key often lies in getting professional medical care for the baby as soon as possible.
Metabolic birth defects
The second type of defect is the metabolic birth defect. This is a chemistry issue, an internal defect that impacts the child’s health. The metabolic process is the process by which the body breaks down the food a child eats and converts that food into energy. A metabolic issue can have a serious impact and may even be fatal in some cases. As you can imagine, a growing child needs an incredible amount of energy from food at this stage in their life, so any lack can hinder development.
There are numerous examples of metabolic defects, but two of the most common are phenylketonuria (PKU) and Tay-Sachs disease. PKU can impact how a child’s system processes protein. Tay-Sachs disease is an issue with the central nervous system, and it is a fatal disease.
Your options as a parent
When a child suffers from a birth defect, it is important for parents to know what options they have. Part of the equation could be whether you took any medications or drugs that have been linked to birth defects. With so much at stake, including your child’s health and happiness, you must know where to turn.