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Birth Defects Provoke Challenges For NM Families

on November 18, 2017 - 9:38pm

NMDH News:

Being a parent is a challenge under any circumstance, but for 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States this year, there are challenges above and beyond the day-to-day raising of the child.

One in 33 is the rate of babies born nationally with birth defects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that means about one child in every school classroom in the country might be affected.

Birth defects come in many forms. Here in New Mexico, the Department of Health (NMDOH) tracks the rate of 12 major birth defects. They include limb and heart deformities, cleft palates, Spina Bifida and more. Down syndrome is one of the most common defects in our state, affecting 1 in every 1000 live births in New Mexico, on average.  However this rate is lower than the United States’ rate of 1 in every 700 live births.
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities. People with Down syndrome usually have an IQ in the mildly-to-moderately low range and are slower to speak than other children.

According to the CDC, researchers know that Down syndrome is caused by the extra chromosome, but no one knows for sure why Down syndrome occurs or how many different factors play a role.

One factor that increases the risk for having a baby with Down syndrome is the mother’s age. Women who are 35 years or older when they become pregnant are more likely to have a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome than women who become pregnant at a younger age.  However, the majority of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers less than 35 years old, because there are many more births among younger women.

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing their health and adopting healthy habits before becoming pregnant.