Understanding Fetal Anomalies

One out of every 33 babies born in the United States has a birth defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though birth defects may vary in severity, they are the leading cause of infant death in the US. 

Finding out that your baby has a life-threatening fetal anomaly during pregnancy care can be difficult and leave you with many unanswered questions. Our compassionate and experienced team at Eve Medical of Miami understands the many emotions you may be experiencing. 

Having a better understanding of fetal anomalies may help you sort through those feelings so you can make the best decisions about your care. 

About fetal anomalies

Fetal anomalies, also known as birth defects, congenital anomalies, and congenital disorders, are structural or functional defects that occur during intrauterine development, or while the fetus is in the womb. The anomaly may affect one or more body parts and may be discovered during pregnancy, at birth, or during the first year of life. 

Fetal anomalies are a major cause of infant and childhood death, chronic illness, and disability. The effect the fetal anomaly has on the baby or child’s health depends on the severity of the anomaly and the organ that’s affected. 

Causes of fetal anomalies

In most cases, the exact cause of the fetal anomaly is unknown. However, there are some known factors that may lead to a fetal anomaly. 

Your genes may play a major role in the development of a fetal anomaly, whether from an inherited genetic trait or from an alteration in a gene, referred to as a gene mutation.

Maternal age is also a risk factor for fetal anomalies. Women who bear children later in life are at greater risk of chromosomal fetal anomalies such as Down syndrome. 

Exposure to chemicals, certain medications, alcohol, or tobacco may also increase the risk of a fetal anomaly. Infections, such as syphilis or rubella, are also known to affect fetal development and may lead to a birth defect. 

What you eat or don’t eat may also affect intrauterine growth and development. Poor intake of folate, a B vitamin found in fruits, vegetables, and beans, increases the risk of neural tube defects, according to the World Health Organization.

Pregnancy screenings for fetal anomalies

Throughout your pregnancy, you may undergo a number of health screenings to assess your health and your baby’s health. Tests that specifically look for fetal anomalies include:

Some of the pregnancy screenings for fetal anomalies provide definitive answers, while others may require additional testing to confirm or rule out a specific issue. 

Your need for compassionate women’s care

If your pregnancy screening tests indicate a serious fetal anomaly, your OB/GYN or genetic counselor may refer you to us. We’re a private medical practice that specializes in women’s health, fetal anomalies, and high-risk pregnancy terminations. 

A serious fetal anomaly is often unexpected and difficult to take in. Our well-trained team offers comprehensive and compassionate care and provides you and your family with the comfort and support needed during a very difficult time. 

To ensure that all of your questions are answered and your needs are met, we assign one of our nursing specialists to serve as your personal confidant to work with you, your genetic counselor, and your OB/GYN, as well as our medical team. 

If you have questions and need answers, contact our office in Miami, Florida, today by phone or use the “request appointment” tool to book online.

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