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12 Things That Affect The Baby's Appearance During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a wonderful thing for a woman. Growing a tiny life inside of you is a complete miracle. Some women plan out their entire pregnancy all the way up to their birth and sometimes beyond. Soon-to-be moms don’t plan for, or anticipate, things going wrong with their pregnancy, even if the thought crosses their mind. A mom may worry about things going wrong, but yet they also sometimes have the mentality that it will never happen to them. There are so many things that could potentially go wrong with a pregnancy, with some things being minor and other things being major.

There are some things that a mom can do, either on purpose or by accident, that can affect their unborn baby’s appearance during their pregnancy. There are some things that many moms may not even be aware of that could alter their baby’s appearance such as certain medications, diseases, or habits. Some of the medications that cause these issues were given to pregnant women for a long time before the FDA put a stop to it and made the pharmaceutical companies publicly announce the complications and risks that they were causing pregnant women.

While most of the things that moms do that could affect the baby’s appearance are preventable, there are a few things that just cannot be helped. Here is a list of something’s that could affect the baby's appearance.

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12 Sipping On A Few Drinks

There is technically no "safe" amount of alcohol a woman should drink while pregnant, despite what anyone else may say. When a mom-to-be consumes alcohol, even a small glass of wine, she automatically passes the alcohol that is now in her bloodstream to her developing baby through the umbilical cord. So, drinking alcohol while pregnant is always dangerous and poses serious risks to the baby, can affect his or her own physical appearance, and (in worst case) cause a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Drinking alcohol while pregnant can affect the baby’s appearance, organs, brain, and physical development. The baby could develop abnormal facial features. This includes: an abnormally small head, a short height than normal, and be underweight. Other risks include: learning and intellectual disabilities, issues with the heart, kidneys and bones, and become hyperactive with poor concentration.

11 Going Crazy With Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that can protect pregnant women from developing anemia, help with tissue development, support a healthy metabolism, and it can help with the baby’s development of the skin, eyes, bones, and teeth. However, there is such a thing as too much vitamin A.

There are two forms of vitamin A and consuming too much of one has been linked to birth defects. Since there are a number of foods that contain vitamin A, a pregnant woman should not take a prenatal vitamin that contains more than 1,500 mcg of this form of vitamin A in it.

Too many vitamins (as oxymoronic as it may sound) have been linked to affecting the baby’s physical appearance. How so? The baby's eyes and skull can become malformed, in addition to other complications with the baby's heart and lungs.

10 Sky High Levels

If a soon-to-be mom had diabetes before becoming pregnant or develops gestational diabetes, she must regularly monitor her blood sugar levels. If she doesn't keep her levels in control, she and her unborn baby are at risk of serious complications. This includes the baby's appearance.

Firstly, the baby could be born with a body that is larger than normal, which means mom will most likely need to have a C-section. Secondly, the baby could develop a cleft palate, which is when the baby's lips don't form properly. Finally, the baby could develop jaundice - which is the yellowing of the skin.

It’s always better for the mom-to-be to take care of herself for her own well-being and for her baby’s sake, and just monitor her blood sugar levels to the best of her ability by checking her sugar levels frequently and following the diet that her doctor recommended for her.

9 Trying To Get Rid Of Acne

Pregnant women are now being advised not to use the acne medication called Accutane, since there's a high risk mom's unborn baby will develop serious birth defects. Accutane has a 70-80% success rate in treating severe cases of acne, but on the medication's box, there is a warning that all moms need to take seriously. We all know pregnancy can cause mommy breakouts, but never ever use Accutane to fix it. The risk is just too high.

There is a 25.6% increased risk of neonatal defects according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These defects directly affects the baby's appearance. They can include: cleft palate, malformed eyes and ears, and facial/cranial deformities. If mom wants to treat her acne, she should just wait until after the baby is born instead of posing a risk to her developing baby.

8 Not Enough Vitamins

Pregnant woman are constantly told that taking folic acid is essential to the health of their developing baby, and this includes taking folic acid prior to conception as well. In fact, doctors can't stress enough how important it is for moms-to-be. So what happens if mom doesn't take enough folic acid? If mom's levels are too low this can cause serious complications during pregnancy. One complication, in particular, is called anencephaly, which is a defect that affects the baby's face and head. The baby is missing parts of its brain and skull (usually the front part of their brain that is responsible for coordinating and thinking). This causes the head to look smaller in size.

7 Having A Baby At An Older Age

One thing that is said to increase the risk of a baby being born with Down Syndrome is if the mother is over the age of 35 or the father is over the age 40. Down Syndrome can affect the baby’s appearance, cause mental disabilities, and give the baby certain medical conditions. 1 in 700 babies are born with Down Syndrome, and it is the most common genetic disorder in America.

Some of the characteristics of Down Syndrome that affect the baby’s appearance are flat facial features; they can have a small head and ears, a short neck, bulging tongue, eyes that tend to slant upwards, oddly shaped ears, along with poor muscle tone. Some of the mental disabilities are a short attention span with poor judgment, impulse control issues, and learning disabilities. There are tons of medical conditions that can affect a baby with Down Syndrome, and some of them are congenital heart defects, hearing and vision issues, sleep apnea, and they can be more prone to getting infections such as skin, respiratory, and urinary infections.

6 Unprotected Fun

Cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV, is a form of the herpes virus. There happens to be many forms of the herpes virus. Some come in the form of an STD, or cold sores, and others come in the forms of infections like CMV. Believe it or not, most people usually get infected with this virus at some point in their life.

If a woman catches this virus during her pregnancy, she has a 1-in-3 chance of passing it on to her baby. CMV is the most common virus passed from mom to baby during a pregnancy, and this can happen to about 1-4% of pregnant women.

Most babies that develop CMV won’t develop any health concerns or issues, however, for some babies, this virus can cause microcephaly. This is a birth defect that can affect the baby’s appearance as well as their development. With microcephaly, the baby’s head is abnormally small in size, and this is usually caused by an abnormally developed or small sized brain and skull.

5 Exposure To Chickenpox

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is an extremely contagious viral infection that causes a very itchy blister-like rash. If a woman contracts the virus while pregnant, it can cause her and her unborn baby serious health risks. A pregnant woman could develop complications such as pneumonia. If a woman catches chickenpox between week 8 through 20 of her pregnancy, the baby could develop a rare birth defect known as congenital varicella syndrome.

A baby who develops this syndrome could develop issues that affect their appearances such as scarring of their skin, underdeveloped arms and legs, and inflammation of their eyes. Another serious complication that they baby could develop would be the incomplete development of their brain. However, if chickenpox develops close to birth up to 48 hours after birth, the baby could potentially face a life-threatening infection called neonatal varicella.

4 Lighting Up

Doctors urge all women who smoke to quit during their pregnancy in order to keep their unborn babies safe from harm. But did you know that 10 percent of women reported that they smoked a cigarette during their third trimester? By smoking during pregnancy, women put their unborn's life and health in immediate risk. In worst case scenario, a woman might have a miscarriage.

Smoking can also affect the baby’s appearance during a pregnancy. If mom chooses not to throw the pack out, the baby is at a higher risk of being born prematurely, which would causes the baby to weigh less and, in turn, make the baby look smaller than average. The baby could also develop a cleft palate or a cleft lip, which is when the lip isn't formed properly. It’s understandable that quitting smoking if very hard to do, but as a mom, you have to put your baby first.

3 The Fix

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2015 file photo, Sprout Pharmaceuticals CEO Cindy Whitehead holds a bottle for the female sex-drive drug Addyi at her Raleigh, N.C. Most women with low sexual desire won’t rush out to get the first prescription drug to boost female libido when it launches on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. But they may have more options down the road. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

Prescription opioids are painkillers such as codeine, Fentanyl, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. That is not even half of the list because there are tons more prescription opioids out there. Another kind of opioid, which is highly illegal and very unsafe, is heroin. Opioids also happen to be highly addictive, even when in prescription form.

There are so many complications that opioids can cause during a pregnancy. Some things affect the baby’s appearance such as spina bifida, fetal growth restriction, and a low birth weight which would mean that the baby is smaller in size. Other complications opioid use can cause are miscarriages, premature births, heart defects, neonatal abstinence syndrome, among other issues that can seriously harm the baby, the safest thing a mom-to-be can do for herself, and for her baby, would be to skip out on any form of opioids altogether.

2 Catching The Virus

Zika Virus is primarily spread by two ways; one way is by getting bit by an infected mosquito or by getting intimate with an infected person. The zika virus can then pass from mother to her unborn baby, which causes microcephaly. The condition affects the baby's appearance. Since the brain is not developed properly, the brain and the baby's head is drastically smaller in size.

A baby affected by the zika virus can also develop congenital zika syndrome. The characteristics of this usually includes a severe form of microcephaly that affects the baby's eyes, results in clubfoot, and can cause too much muscle tone. A mom is not at fault if she gets bit by an infected mosquito, but she is at fault if she gets the virus by doing it without protection. So, mom, always use a rubber!

1 Trauma In The Womb

If a pregnant woman suffers trauma to the bump, such as falling down, the baby can get hurt in the process. Although a woman's body gets stronger during pregnancy, in order to protect the growing fetus, there are ways to injure the baby. This also includes using drugs, which can cause trauma to the womb and, in effect, the baby as well. One major risk is deformities. The baby could be born without nasal passages, for example, which makes it difficult for the baby to feed since they can't breath while they are on the bottle or breast.

Sources: Mayoclinic.org, Whattoexpect.com, Drugs.com, Birthinjuryguide.org, Drugabuse.gov, CDC.gov, Healthline.com, Aboutkidshealth.ca, Webmd.com, Marchofdimes.org, BBC.com

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