Why We Don’t Know What Causes Most Birth Defects

June 2018

The development of a baby, from the time of fertilisation through to the moment of birth, is an incredibly complex journey. Most of the time the result is a perfect new baby. However, in about 3% of babies mistakes happen and a birth defect occurs. This is when an anatomical difference has come about as the baby develops in the womb.

Birth defects (also known as congenital anomalies) are a major cause of infant hospitalisation and deaths in the first year of life. These are not only costly to manage in the health-care system, but can also have an enormous impact on the lives of the child and their family.

Some birth defects are relatively mild, can be repaired with simple surgery and the child will go on to lead a perfectly normal life. These include an additional little finger or webbing between two toes.

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Issue 11: Volume 10

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