Information for Patients
A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect.
A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or neural tube defects are structural problems that can be easy to see. To find others, like heart defects, doctors use special tests. Birth defects can range from mild to severe. Causes can include
- Exposures to medicines or chemicals. For example, alcohol abuse can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Infections during pregnancy
- Certain medicines. Before you get pregnant, talk to your health care provider about any medicines you take.
- Not getting enough of certain nutrients. For example, not getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy is a key factor in causing neural tube defects.
For most birth defects, the cause is unknown.
Health care providers can diagnose certain birth defects during pregnancy, with prenatal tests. That's why it important to get regular prenatal care. Other birth defects may not be found until after the baby is born. Sometimes the defect is obvious right away. Other times, the health care provider may not discover it until later in life.
Babies with birth defects often need special care and treatments. The treatments may include surgery, medicines, assistive devices, and therapies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body. It has many different functions. It allows you to
- Take in food and drink
- Breathe in air
- Start digestion, with your teeth chewing the food you eat and your salivary glands releasing saliva to help break down the food
- Speak and sing
- Show emotion, by smiling or pouting
Any problem that affects your mouth can make it hard to eat, drink, or even smile. Some common mouth problems include
- Cold sores - painful sores on the lips and around the mouth, caused by a virus
- Canker sores - painful sores in the mouth, caused by bacteria or viruses
- Thrush - a yeast infection that causes white patches in your mouth
- Leukoplakia - white patches of excess cell growth on the cheeks, gums or tongue, common in smokers
- Dry mouth - a lack of enough saliva, caused by some medicines and certain diseases
- Gum or tooth problems
- Bad breath
Treatment for mouth disorders varies, depending on the problem. If a mouth problem is caused by some other disease, treating that disease can help. It is also important to keep your mouth clean and healthy by brushing, flossing, and not using tobacco.
Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for your throat is the pharynx.
Throat problems are common. You've probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the leaking of stomach acids back up into the esophagus, called GERD.
Other problems that affect the throat include
- Tonsillitis - inflammation of the tonsils
- Croup - inflammation, usually in small children, which causes a barking cough
- Laryngitis - swelling of the voice box, which can cause a hoarse voice or loss of voice
Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.