Mississippi State Department of Health

Congenital disorders (birth defects) are an abnormality of body structure, function or chemistry present at birth that results in physical or mental disabilities.

Congenital disorders are the leading cause of death in the first year of life. While there are thousands of possible types of disorders, with health consequences that range from mild to life threatening, Down syndrome and cleft lip or cleft palate are the most common in the United States. About 5,500 babies are born each year with Down Syndrome, and about 6,800 with a cleft lip or palate.

While all the causes of congenital disorders are not known, some disorders can be prevented. Actions you and your doctor take can help prevent congenital disorders and make a better life for your baby.

Causes of congenital disorders

The causes of many congenital disorders are still unknown. Those with known causes can be divided into four types:

Some congenital disorders can be prevented

It's vital to visit your doctor before you become pregnant in order to identify and treat conditions that can pose a risk in pregnancy. A doctor can give advice on the lifestyle factors before and during pregnancy that can contribute to or reduce the risk of congenital disorders.

5 Tips for Preventing Birth Disorders

  1. Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
  2. Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
  3. Become up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.
  4. Before getting pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.
  5. Boost health by avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Prevent to Protect

Infections can affect the health of your developing baby and lead to birth defects. During pregnancy, take these measures to keep your risk of infections low.

Specific Conditions

Fact Sheets and Other Resources

Links referenced
some disorders can be prevented    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,376,html
Fact sheet: Preventing Infections    https://www.nbdpn.org/docs/2018_NBDPN_BDPM_Prevent2Protect_Theme_Resources_2017_11_14.pdf
Congenital Heart Defects    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,285,687,html
Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome)    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,285,980,html
Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome)    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,285,981,html
Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome)    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,285,982,html
Ten Things to Know About Birth Defects    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,8365,285,pdf/TenThingsAboutBirthDefects.pdf
Folic Acid and Why You Need It    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,8367,285,pdf/FolicAcidFacts.pdf
Five Things to Know About Congenital Heart Defects    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,8366,285,pdf/FiveThingsAboutCongenitalHeartDefects.pdf
Los Defectos de Nacimiento    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,5154,285,pdf/BirthDefectsPreventionMonth-Spanish.pdf
More fact sheets, posters and resources    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,0,285,86,html

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

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