About eight million children are born each year with a serious birth defect, and at least 3.3 million under the age of five die annually because the abnormalities, the March of Dimes said Monday.
The report, called Global Report on Birth Defects: The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled, said the majority of deadly or disabling birth defects are genetic or partly genetic in origin.
The report's authors recommend controlling infections in pregnant women to curb birth defects.
Hundreds of thousands of others are born with serious birth defects after their mothers were exposed to infectious diseases such as measles and syphilis, or environmental agents like alcohol.
"Our report identifies for the first time the severe, and previously hidden global toll of birth defects," said Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
"This is a serious, vastly unappreciated and under-funded public health problem," she added in a release.
An estimated 3.2 million of those born with serious birth defects may show lifelong mental and/or physical disabilities, according to the report.
More than 94 per cent of births with serious defects and 95 per cent of deaths of these children occur in middle- and low-income countries, the report's authors said.
Poorer countries face higher rates of birth defects not only because of the effects of poverty and lack of adequate health-care services, but also because of the higher risks of having children later in life and marrying blood relatives.
The report documents prevalence rate and number of affected births in 193 countries.
Together, five common birth defects of genetic or partially genetic origin – congenital heart defects, neural tube defects, the hemoglobin disorders thalassemia and sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) – accounted for about 26 per cent of all such birth defects in 2001.
To reduce the incidence of birth defects, the report recommends:
Ensuring women receive a healthy diet during their reproductive years.
Controlling infections in pregnant women.
Training health-care professionals in medical genetics.
Identifying couples at higher risk of having children with genetic disorders.
Establishing newborn screening programs to identify babies born with treatable metabolic disorders, such as phenylketonuria (PKU).
Educating men and women of childbearing age about working with health providers to maximize chances of having a healthy baby.
The March of Dimes is a national charity that aims to eliminate birth defects.
Source:CBCLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16