Pregnancy and Babycare: Fetal Abnormalities

Pregnancy and Babycare: Fetal Abnormalities

Pre-conceptional planning and precautions; and devoted care and medical support during pregnancy help in achieving a normal pregnancy. A normal pregnancy substantiates a healthy and normally developed fetus.

The scans and ultrasounds in the early pregnancy make it possible to describe the normal anatomy of the fetus and analyze or suspect the presence of a wide range of fetal defects in the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Support and counseling is vital for women who face difficult prenatal test results.

One of the most common fetal abnormalities is known to be, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. A woman, who drinks alcohol during pregnancy, is at a very high risk of giving birth to a child with life-long physical and mental deficiencies. The physical and mental defects develop in the fetus or un-born baby, when the mother drinks excessive alcohol during pregnancy. A baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome may require a lifetime of special care and may be seriously handicapped. Fetal alcohol syndrome is closely associated with defects in memory, learning, hearing, vision, communication, or attention span. Alcohol is capable of causing birth defects including defects of organs, small head and brain and facial abnormalities. Fetal alcohol syndrome may be caused by:-

  • Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Use of few drugs, including painkillers and tranquilizers.
  • Long history of alcohol consumption in women.
  • Women older than 30 years and habitual to alcohol drinking.
  • Heart defects such as atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect.

Alcohol consumption should be discontinued right when the woman plans to get pregnant. Controlling such habits prior to conception can help you avoid a lot of problems that are associated with pregnancy and child birth. If you are planning a baby or are pregnant, it is, but necessary that you eliminate the unhealthy habits from your life in order to have a smooth pregnancy period and promote normal fetal development. You are also advised to discuss with your doctor if you face problems in quitting alcohol.

Genetic abnormality in the fetus causes Down Syndrome or DS. DS causes defects such as facial abnormalities, undeveloped muscles and joints, cardio-vascular defects, vision defects and mild to severe retardation. Down syndrome is caused by:-

  • Genetic and chromosomal defects.
  • Age of the woman; a woman over 35 years is at a high risk.

Genetic testing prior to pregnancy can help in detecting the defects and ruling out some genetic risks. Genetic counseling allows you to seek preventive or early treatment and avoid the abnormal fetal development. However, if you discover this genetic abnormality during pregnancy, your doctor can provide you the accurate medical assistance and monitor your pregnancy through frequent tests and assessments. Women who are at a high risk should be regularly tested during pregnancy to detect any fetal abnormalities.

Growth abnormalities, metabolic disorders in the fetus, infections, blood coagulation disorders and immune system defects in the fetus; are events those can occur during the fetus development and cause Cerebral Palsy. Since cerebral palsy is generally not diagnosed until months or years after a baby is born; the importance of monitoring the fetal heartbeat during labor and initial assessment of the newborn, is emphasized.

There are some drugs and medications that should be avoided during pregnancy. Some antibiotics are known to cause fetal abnormalities, and laxatives and acne medicines are known to cause birth defects. Antacids cause muscle development defects in the fetus. There are many common herbal medicines that are best avoided during pregnancy, including flax seed and golden seal. You are advised to consult your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to be so, and discuss about the drugs and supplements that can cause problems to you and your baby. Also, if you are undergoing any kind of a medication, talk about it with your doctor. Your doctor is the best person to inform you about which medicines are to be avoided.

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