A congenital condition is a medical term for a defect or abnormality present at birth. Congenital conditions can affect any part of the body, ranging from mild to severe. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of congenital conditions in infants and explore some of the reasons why they happen.
1. Heart defects
Heart defects are one of the most common types of congenital conditions in children. The heart is responsible for pumping blood through the entire body and taking oxygen-rich blood back to the lungs to be re-oxygenated before being pumped out to our muscles, organs, and brain. A defective heart valve or improper functioning of the ventricles (the chambers inside the heart) can cause the left side of the heart to fail while the right side does not have enough oxygen flow. If these problems are not treated early on in life, they can lead to lifelong complications such as congestive heart failure.
2. Chromosomal abnormalities
Chromosomal abnormalities are another type of congenital condition that affects the majority of newborns. There are more than 100 different chromosomes that make up the human genome. Each chromosome contains genes that help control many aspects of growth and development, including how fast an infant grows. Major chromosomal abnormalities include Down syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Trisomy 18 and 19. This condition happens due to errors in cell division during prenatal development.
3. Neural tube defects
The neural tube consists of the spinal cord, brain stem, and brain. The brain stem comprises medulla oblongata and pons: the cranial nerves, cerebellum, and spinal cord from within the third week after conception. Any problem with the formation or closure of these structures during fetal development can result in a neural tube defect. This includes spina bifida cystica meningeal, encephalocele, anencephaly, myelomeningocele, and lipomyelomeningocoele.
4. Cleft lip/palate
One of the earliest signs your child would show if he has a cleft palate and other facial deformities is by sucking his thumb when he is very young. Sucking thumbs helps babies grow strong cheekbones. The cleft lips and palates are caused by incomplete fusion of the upper jawbones. This may occur due to genetic mutations, environmental factors, or both. When the baby’s head is fully formed, it is pulled downward into the womb so that the nasal passages remain open. However, if there is no space between the skull and face, then the nose usually develops on top of the skull instead of down below, like normal. As a result, the baby sucks its thumb often since the mouth cannot close properly.
Hydrocephalus occurs when excess fluid builds up in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is made in the choroid plexuses and flows out of the brain through the ventricular system. Blockages, infections, tumors, and trauma can prevent the proper drainage from occurring and cause increased pressure in the brain leading to an enlarged head. This is known as hydrocephalus. Signs of hydrocephalus include vomiting, poor appetite, and excessive crying. This happens due to blockage of the cerebral aqueducts, which allows CSF to accumulate in the lateral ventricles. However, Congenital Talipes Equinovarus provides an exception. This condition happens when the child is born with clubfoot.
In conclusion, congenital conditions in infants are more likely present in this order: heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects, cleft lip and palate, and postnatal problems. These conditions are serious and should be diagnosed as soon as possible to decrease death rates among children who do not receive proper treatment in time.