• 530.541.3420 | 2170 South Avenue, S. Lake Tahoe, CA

What Do You Know About Birth Defects?

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present at birth that cause physical or mental disability. Some may be fatal. Several thousand different birth defects have been identified. Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life.

1. What percentage of U.S. infants are born with birth defects annually?

a. 1 percent

b. 3 percent

c. 5 percent

d. 10 percent

2. When is an unborn baby most at risk of developing abnormalities?

a. first trimester

b. second trimester

c. last trimester

d. all 9 months

3. What causes birth defects ?

a. genetics (missing genes or genes that don’t work correctly)

b. missing chromosomes or extra chromosomes

c. exposure of the mother to environmental factors such as diseases, drugs, alcohol.

d. all of the above

4. Which of these maternal habits can be harmful to the fetus?

a. smoking

b. drinking alcohol

c. taking illegal drugs

d. all of the above

5. A woman who is pregnant or considering pregnancy should get a medical checkup. Which of these immunizations should be current before conception because of the danger of the disease to the fetus?

a. tetanus

b. diphtheria-polio-tetanus

c. measles and rubella

d. flu

6. Doctors advise women to take 400 mcg. of folic acid daily before conception and during pregnancy. What can this help prevent in the baby?

a. respiratory distress

b. brain and spinal defects

c. blood disorders

d. learning disorders

7. Pregnant women should avoid handling cat litter to decrease the risk of becoming infected with which of these?

a. toxoplasmosis

b. streptococcus

c. E. coli bacteria

d. HIV

8. Which of these kinds of medications can cause birth defects if taken when pregnant?

a. prescription medications

b. over-the-counter medications

c. herbal remedies

d. all of the above

9. During prenatal care, a physician may recommend genetic screening tests for certain disorders. Which of the following conditions can be detected with an amniocentesis ?

a. Down syndrome

b. multiple sclerosis

c. cancer

d. attention deficit disorder

10. Extra or missing chromosomes can trigger genetic birth defects. What factor greatly increases the risk of an abnormal number of chromosomes in the fetus?

a. older age of the mother

b. father's nutritional deficiencies

c. mother's diet

d. none of the above

The answers

1. B. Three percent.

2. A. The first trimester.

3. D. All of the above . Even though both genetic and environmental factors have been identified as causes of birth defects, according to the March of Dimes, the causes of about 60 to 70 percent of birth defects currently are unknown.

4. D. All of the above. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage or damage to developing fetal organs. Alcohol and illegal drugs can increase the risk of fetal abnormalities and miscarriage.

5. C. Measles and rubella. If a woman is not immune to rubella, infection during pregnancy can result in birth defects.

6. B. Brain and spinal defects. Taking folic-acid supplements may reduce the risk by 50 percent.

7. A. Toxoplasmosis. This infection can be transmitted to humans via cat feces, seriously harming an unborn baby. Infection during pregnancy can seriously harm an unborn baby.

8. D. All of the above. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications aren't safe for pregnant women to take. An expectant mother should check with her doctor before taking any medication or supplement.

9. A. Down syndrome. Amniocentesis usually is done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy.

10. A. Older age of the mother. Women 35 and older have a greater risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities, in particular trisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome.