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Congenital anomalies important causes of infant and childhood deaths

Congenital anomalies important causes of infant and childhood deaths

Kolkata, Jun 13 (UNI) Congenital anomalies are important causes of infant and childhood

deaths, chronic illness and disability.

Congenital anomalies are also known as birth defects, congenital disorders or congenital malformations. Congenital anomalies can be defined as structural or functional anomalies

(for example, metabolic disorders) that occur during intrauterine life and can be identified

prenatally, at birth, or sometimes may only be detected later in infancy, such as hearing

defects.

In simple terms, congenital refers to the existence at or before birth.

An estimated 303 000 newborns die within 4 weeks of birth every year, worldwide, due

to congenital anomalies.

Although approximately 50 per cent of all congenital anomalies cannot be linked to a

specific cause, there are some known genetic, environmental and other causes or risk

factors.

Genes play an important role in many congenital anomalies. This might be through

inherited genes that code for an anomaly, or resulting from sudden changes in genes

known as mutations.

Consanguinity (when parents are related by blood) also increases the prevalence

of rare genetic congenital anomalies and nearly doubles the risk for neonatal and

childhood death, intellectual disability and other anomalies.

Some ethnic communities (such as Ashkenazi Jews or Finns) have a comparatively

high prevalence of rare genetic mutations such as Cystic Fibrosis and Haemophilia C.

Low-income may be an indirect determinant of congenital anomalies, with a higher

frequency among resource-constrained families and countries. It is estimated that

about 94 per cent of severe congenital anomalies occur in low- and middle-income

countries.

An indirect determinant, this higher risk relates to a possible lack of access to

sufficient, nutritious foods by pregnant women, an increased exposure to agents or

factors such as infection and alcohol, or poorer access to healthcare and screening.

Factors often associated with lower-income may induce or increase the incidence

of abnormal prenatal development.

Maternal age is also a risk factor for abnormal intrauterine fetal development.

Advanced maternal age increases the risk of chromosomal abnormalities, including

Down syndrome.

Maternal exposure to certain pesticides and other chemicals, as well as certain

medications, alcohol, tobacco and radiation during pregnancy, may increase the

risk of having a fetus or neonate affected by congenital anomalies.

Working or living near, or in, waste sites, smelters or mines may also be a risk

factor, particularly if the mother is exposed to other environmental risk factors or

nutritional deficiencies.

Maternal infections such as syphilis and rubella are a significant cause of

congenital anomalies in low- and middle-income countries.

Maternal folate insufficiency increases the risk of having a baby with a neural

tube defect while excessive vitamin A intake may affect the normal development

of an embryo or fetus.

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Parliamentarians from WHO South-East Asia Region commit to health of women, children and adolescents

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