HYDERABAD: Congenital anomalies, known as birth defects in common parlance are a serious issue that can hamper a child’s life, which can be avoided if the parents expecting a child take necessary steps like proper antenatal care and diagnosis.
A recently published study conducted by researchers from Deccan College of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad reported the prevalence of congenital malformations at three percent in city, similar to studies conducted elsewhere in India.
The researchers studied 4,120 cases of newborn children at Princess Esra Hospital, of which 123 newborns had congenital anomalies. Globally, 3,03,000 newborns die within four weeks of birth every year due to congenital anomalies as per the World Health Organisation.
Congenital anomalies are categorised based on the effect they will have on survival of a newborn. The Hyderabad study reported that of 123 congenital anomalies, 52 were major anomalies which can prove fatal and the rest 71 were minor anomalies, which are mostly deviation from the normal.
The most common forms of major congenital anomalies observed in the 71 cases were related to central nervous system, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal and the gut.
Dr Anjul Dayal, Pediatric Intensivist from Hyderabad, says, “Consanguinity is a major cause behind congenital anomalies. Consanguineous marriages are still widely prevalent in the country, even among the well educated. There is a need for awareness to be created against it.”
Before conceiving get your genes tested
Dr Dayal said, “Before conceiving, couples should get their genes tested to know if their genes are carriers of any congenital anomaly causing genetic mutation. The genetic tests are conducted at some private labs and hospitals in Hyderabad. The couples are also provided counseling regarding their test results.”
Measures to be taken
Dr Dayal says that during pregnancy, women should undergo antenatal scanning in regular periods in consultation with their gynecologist. He said, “The scanning will help detect presence of congenital anomaly in the foetus. It will help doctors and parents stay prepared for medical treatment and support to be provided to the newborn once it is delivered.
Not knowing the anomalies beforehand will delay in provision of treatment to the newborn which might prove fatal. If the scanning does not give a clear picture but some symptoms are seen fluid from the pregnant mother can be extracted and tested for genetic defects.” Dr Dayal also stresses on prenatal vaccines for pregnant women also play an important role in preventing congenital anomalies due to infections.