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 colon, also known as the large intestine, is part of your digestive system. It's a long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract where your body makes and stores stool. Many disorders affect the colon's ability to work properly. Some of these include
- Colorectal cancer
- Colonic polyps - extra tissue growing in the colon that can become cancerous
- Ulcerative colitis - ulcers of the colon and rectum
- Diverticulitis - inflammation or infection of pouches in the colon
- Irritable bowel syndrome - an uncomfortable condition causing abdominal cramping and other symptoms
Treatment for colonic diseases varies greatly depending on the disease and its severity. Treatment may involve diet, medicines and in some cases, surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Small Intestine Disorders
Your small intestine is the longest part of your digestive system - about twenty feet long! It connects your stomach to your large intestine (or colon) and folds many times to fit inside your abdomen. Your small intestine does most of the digesting of the foods you eat. It has three areas called the duodenum, the ileum, and the jejunum.
Problems with the small intestine can include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn's disease
- Intestinal cancer
- Intestinal obstruction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ulcers, such as peptic ulcer
Treatment of disorders of the small intestine depends on the cause.