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15 Things During Pregnancy That Cause Serious Birth Defects

Being a parent is hard, but being pregnant is hard too. There are so many things to avoid doing and consuming during pregnancy. Every move (for the most part) that you make effects that little growing miss (or mister) in utero.

Some woman are at a higher risk than others for their babies developing birth defects. Some things can be avoided, and some are out of any parent’s control. It is best to avoid doing and consuming anything that could put baby at risk for any medical issues.

There are things mamas may not even think about that could put baby at a huge risk for a limb deformity or a heart defect. No one wants their baby to suffer, but if a baby is born with a birth defect, they will be loved just as much.

Even though the love will not be any different, it is still best to take the measures needed to ensure that baby is born healthy and thriving. Most parents will do whatever they can to make sure their baby is protected in the womb, but some things are easily avoided while some happen by chance.

Here are 15 crazy things during pregnancy that can increase babies risk of birth defects.

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15 Common Viral Infections

For pregnant woman, some types of infections pose a risk to baby, while others do not. Group B strep is something your doctor will test you for. It is caused by a bacterium and 1:4 woman have it. If you have it, they will take precautions during delivery.

If your newborn comes in contact with this during birth it can cause chronic mental impairments, and learning disabilities. Another scary infection is the flu, and women who have the flu are 2x as likely to have a baby with a birth defect of the heart, spine or brain than those who do not. In addition, the chicken pox may be an issue if you are not immune.

Birth defects such as neurological and vision disabilities as well as malformed limbs can be a problem. Also, Cytomegalorovirus is a common viral infection, and if passed through the placenta it can cause disability at birth.

14 Eating Foods Like Soft Cheeses And Deli Meat

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the Listeria bacteria. To decrease the risk of this, it is smart to steer clear of soft cheeses (feta, brie, blue veined cheeses, queso for example) unless the labels state they are made with pasteurized milk.

Also, avoid hot dogs, deli meat, that are chilled or at room temperature. To decrease risk, it is best to wash raw vegetables, thoroughly cook raw foods, consume ready to eat food as soon as possible and to wash your hands after contact with uncooked foods.

Listeriosis can cause life threatening infections which can cause health problems such as problems with the brain, kidney and heart. IV antibiotics can treat this infection and help protect your baby if your doctor finds you have this problem.

13 Cleaning The Cat's Litter

Handling cat litter could expose you and your baby to something called toxoplasmosis, which is an illness that can cause severe birth defects in an unborn baby. Toxoplasma may be carried in cat feces.

To protect yourself from this, make sure you avoid changing the cat litter, but if you have to, wear gloves and then wash your hands with soap and water. You do not need to get rid of your cat, but you do need to be wary of her cat litter box.

Toxoplasma can cause your baby to develop a mental disability and/or blindness, brain damage, or serious eye damage. This is a very easily avoidable problem and asking hubby or a friend to help you out is not a bad idea.

12 Being Underweight Or Overweight

At your first OB appointment after you find out you are expecting; the topic of your weight is something your doctor will talk about. If you are underweight, overweight or at an ideal weight, the topic is important for many reasons.

There are risks during pregnancy regardless of weight, but being over or under weight can cause issues. If you are underweight there is a chance that you’re not getting enough nutrition and that means baby does not have enough nutrients to grow and develop.

If you do not get enough nutrients, you can be facing dealing with birth defects with your baby. If you are overweight, you could be putting baby at a risk of heart defects, and issues with the nervous, digestive, urinary system as well as limbs and genital organs as well as the brain and spinal cord.

During pregnancy, your weight will be monitored very closely for obvious reasons.

11 Over The Counter Medications

It can be scary to hear- but there are many medications that are very unsafe for your baby. Before taking or continuing any medication, talk with your doctor asap. There is a risk of birth defects for some prescription face medications such as Accutane, and also a risk for seizure medications that can cause baby to have craniofacial defects as well as organ deformities.

Believe it or not, some antibiotics can cause malformation of your sweetie’s skull and brain, cleft lip and eye defects. There is a small chance of birth defects from some anti-inflammatory drugs, but it is always best to ask first.

Medications commonly used for anxiety and depression can be linked to heart defects, limb abnormalities, neural tube defects and spina bifida. Several medications are considered safe during pregnancy but there are many that are not. Remember, whatever you take, your peanut gets exposed to.

10 Avoiding Prenatal Vitamins

At your first OB appointment after you find out that you are pregnant, your OB will tell you to take a prenatal vitamin that has folic acid in it. Folic acid can reduce birth defects such as some heart defects, anencephaly, and spina bifida. Folic acid can reduce certain birth defects by more than 70%.

You can have your OB write you a prescription, or you can buy them over the counter. Don’t worry if you miss a pill from time to time, but make it a habit to take the prescribed amount every single day so your baby can be born super healthy. There is a chance that you can still have a baby with a birth defect even if you do take folic acid, but it is better to make a conscious effort to prevent it.

9 Getting Pregnant After 35

Older woman has an increased risk of having a baby with a birth defect. The risk of having a child with a birth defect can be caused by extra, missing, or damaged chromosomes. The most common defect for babies of woman over 35 years or older is Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome can cause defects such as heart problems and intellectual disability. If you are ready to have a baby, you should be both physically and emotionally ready to become pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome.

Prenatal testing can detect a pregnancy with Down Syndrome as well as a genetic counselor. The older you are the more your chance rises. If you give birth at age 40, the risk of your baby being born with Down Syndrome is 1 in 106 and 1 in 66 chances of being born with a chromosomal abnormality.

8 Blood Sugar Is Not Under Control

Whether you have diabetes before your pregnancy or end up getting it while you are pregnant, there are risks. If an expectant mother has poor control of her diabetes while pregnant that means that her blood sugar levels are above normal. This causes serious issues for baby.

If blood sugar is not well controlled during pregnancy for woman with type 1 or 2 diabetes there is a risk for birth defects (along with a list of other serious issues.) To avoid issues, seek consistent gynaecological care and keep up with appointments at your family doctor. It is also good to monitor your blood sugar often and control and treat blood sugar. Some birth defects are serious enough to cause fetal death, so be sure to take care of yourself.

7 Sexually Transmitted Infections Or Diseases

If a mother has a sexually transmitted infection or disease it can pose big risks to your baby. Your soon to be bundle of joy can end up with birth defects such as intellectual disabilities, deafness, bone deformities and blindness from some sexually transmitted infections or diseases.

Your gynaecologist will go over this with you if you find yourself pregnant while already having a disease. If you do not have a disease and you are pregnant and have multiple partners or untested partners, it is best to use condoms (or refrain in general.)

It is not worth the risks a disease can pose to your baby. If you find yourself with a sexually transmitted infection or disease, there are drug treatments for certain diseases and infections. Unfortunately, not all are treatable.

6 Not Putting Down The Wine

Its assumed most mothers know that drugs and alcohol are a massive no-no during pregnancy, but not everyone listens. It is extremely dangerous to partake in drug use during pregnancy. It does not matter the type of drug, they all can have impacts on your babies growth and development.

If you find out you are pregnant it is important to stop drug use or avoid partaking in drug use. Some woman claim a little bit of alcohol won’t hurt their baby, but doctors advise to not even risk it. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a name for a set of birth defects triggered by alcohol use In pregnancy….organ defects, facial malformations, impaired growth, mental retardation.

The issue is the fetal liver is only partially developed, and is not able to metabolize and eliminate alcohol on its own. It's best to put down the wine and sip on some apple juice!

5 Taking An X-Ray

High doses of radiation can cause changes in a baby’s cells. They can increase the risk of birth defects or increase chance of certain cancers later in life. Certain amounts of radiation exposure can harm baby and cause maturation's’ in the DNA.

X-rays during pregnancy can put your baby at risk for a reduction in height, small head size, impaired brain development, severe mental retardation.

You can be exposed to radiation through diagnostic testing ordered by your dentist or doctor, so it is important to let them know you are pregnant so protective measures an be taken if an x-ray is required. In most cases, the amount of radiation exposure during an exam is not enough to affect your baby, but high doses of radiation can.

4 Smoking Cigarettes

The poisons you inhale from a cigarette are carried through your bloodstream directly to baby. Some people argue that many years ago a lot of women smoked during pregnancy, but that does not make it safe.

Some babies have gotten lucky and have not had any issues. The problem is that babies born to women who are smokers are more likely to have birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate. Maternal smoking can increase risk of heart, limb, eye and gastrointestinal defects as well as clubfoot.

Some may wonders if an electronic cigarette is a safer alternative, and the answer is no because it is still turning chemicals into a vapor which is inhaled and sent right to your precious sweetie. Quitting smoking can be hard, but having a child with a birth defect can be even more challenging.

3 Insect Bites Or Stings

Image result for zika and babies

It is known that bacteria transmitted by fleas and potentially ticks can be passed to your sweet baby through you. This can cause infections as well as raising the possibility of bacterially induced birth defects.

A huge concern is the risk of getting Zika, which is a virus spread by infected mosquitoes. If you are bit by a mosquito that has Zika this can increase the risk of microcephaly (small brain and head) and other very severe brain defects. It can also cause seizures, eye defects as well as hearing loss.

There is no vaccine or cure for Zika. It is best to wear protective clothing and insect repellents (that are considered pregnant for woman). Mosquito's can carry several diseases, so it is best to be aware of that when you are outside. Pregnant woman attract twice as many mosquitoes as non-pregnant women do, so be cautious!

2 Pesticides: The Dos And Don'ts

Exposure to pesticides during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and other issues such as autism, lower IQ, and reduced birth weight. The risk of these impacts is higher for infants conceived during spray season. Atrazine is a commonly used pesticide used in corn fields linked to birth defects.

All pesticides pose some rusk during pregnancy, but it depends on the toxicity of the pesticide and how much you and your baby are exposed to. Household gardening pesticides can be linked to neural tube defects, heart defects, oral clefts and limb defects. If you must have your home properly treated or you live in an agricultural area it is best to take precautions.

It is also advised when controlling pest problems to use less toxic products such as boric acid. Whatever you breathe in, your little love will be breathing in too. Yes, during pregnancy you have to worry about everything.

1 Going On A Vacation Overseas

Image result for spina bifida baby

Traveling within the country is normally deemed safe by doctors, but the risk lies with traveling out of country. With international travel, you and your baby may be exposed to a disease that is common wherever you are going but rare in the United States.

These diseases can infect you through bug bites, food, water, and/or contact with diseased people. Diarrhea is a common concern when traveling overseas because you are not used to organisms and germs found in other countries.

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration which is very unsafe for you and baby. If you travel to developing nations, there are many diseases that could really harm you and your baby. Most vaccines against those diseases are dangerous or not tested when it comes to pregnancy. Some drinking water is not safe, missing limbs, cleft palate, and spina bifida are some birth defects that can result from drinking unsafe water.

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