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
The pancreas is a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine. It produces juices that help break down food and hormones that help control blood sugar levels. Problems with the pancreas can lead to many health problems. These include
- Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas: This happens when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder in which thick, sticky mucus can also block tubes in your pancreas
The pancreas also plays a role in diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked them. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.