Because they can affect almost any part of the body, birth defects can be associated with many different conditions. These conditions can also range in severity, depending on how the body is affected. The following list provides examples of select birth defects that can occur in certain parts of the body. Visit the links below to learn more.
- Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) (CDC | MOD) are the most common type of birth defect. For more information about different types of CHDs, visit the Heart Encyclopedia from the Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute
- About 1 in 4 babies with a CHD have a critical CHD that requires medical intervention soon after birth. Learn more about newborn screening for critical CHDs in Virginia.
- Mended Little Hearts is an organization that provides peer-to-peer support for families affected by CHDs.
Central Nervous System
- Neural Tube Defects (CDC | MOD) affect the development of the brain and spine and include conditions such as anencephaly, encephalocele, holoprosencephaly, and spina bifida.
- Learn more about the role of Folic Acid in preventing neural tube defects.
- The Spina Bifida Association provides additional resources for individuals affected by spina bifida.
Face and Mouth
- Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate (CDC | MOD) are birth defects that affect the development of the lip or mouth. These conditions can occur alone or together.
- The American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association provides additional resources for individuals affected by cleft lip, cleft palate, and other similar conditions.
- Down Syndrome (CDC | MOD) or Trisomy 21, is the most common chromosomal condition in the United States. Individuals with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21.
- The National Down Syndrome Society and the National Association for Down Syndrome provide resources for individuals with Down Syndrome.
- Gastroschisis (CDC | MOD) is a birth defect of the abdominal wall that causes the intestines to be located outside of the body at birth. See additional resources from the Global Gastroschisis Foundation.
- Limb Reduction Defects affect the musculoskeletal development of the arms or legs.
Not all birth defects can be prevented. However, there are steps that can help increase a person’s chances of having a healthy baby. CDC encourages individuals to make a PACT to get healthy before and during pregnancy:
- Plan ahead
- Avoid harmful substances
- Choose a healthy lifestyle
- Talk with your healthcare provider
The March of Dimes also provides a variety of resources to educate the public and raise awareness about birth defects.