Birth Defects Other

Birth defects, or congenital abnormalities, can affect various parts of the body. Many birth defects affect the body’s organs and systems. A birth defects list includes congenital defects of the following areas:

  • Brain and nervous system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Genitals and urinary tract
  • Heart
  • Respiratory system.

Other birth defects can affect the formation of various parts of the body, including particular structures of the limbs, head and face.

Defects Affecting the Head and Face

Orofacial clefts are a continuum of defects that occur in the upper lip and mouth. Cleft lip and cleft palate are the two most common orofacial defects. A cleft lip occurs when the fusion of the lip is incomplete. Similarly, a cleft palate refers to the incomplete closure or formation of the soft palate, the part of the roof of the mouth closest to the throat.

These congenital defects can affect breathing, feeding and speech in a baby. Birth defects of the lip and palate can be treated with surgical closure of these structures.

Birth defects can also affect the formation of the ears. In some cases, the outer ear structure, called the pinna, can be malformed. Two conditions can result:

  • Anotia: the complete absence of the pinna
  • Microtia: An abnormally formed pinna, which can range from mild to severe.

These malformations can affect hearing, because the external ear can be blocked. Inner ear malformations may also be present.

Defects Affecting the Limbs

Birth defects can affect the development of the hands, feet and digits (fingers and toes). Birth defects of these areas include:

  • Congenital talipes equinovarus: Also known as club foot, this is a malformation of the foot or feet that causes the foot to twist down and inward. It can be treated soon after birth with casting or surgery.
  • Polydactyly: This condition is characterized by the presence of extra fingers or toes.
  • Syndactyly: In this, condition two or more digits are webbed or fused together. Like polydactyly, it can affect both fingers and toes.

These congenital defects can be treated surgically.

Hip dysplasia is a birth defect affecting the hip joint. The ball-and-socket joint of the hip does not develop properly, allowing the head of the femur to slide in and out of place. The leg may appear turned outward. Proper treatment of hip dysplasia after birth can lead to normal function later in life.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Related Birth Defects

In some cases, exposure to toxic agents can cause birth defects. Agents that can affect fetal development and cause birth defects are known as teratogens. Alcohol is a teratogen. When an expectant mother drinks alcohol, it can cause a series of birth defects collectively known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). These defects can affect:

  • Behavior
  • Brain development
  • Physical development and growth.


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Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Clubfoot. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from:

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Fetal alcohol syndrome. Retrieved April 23, 2010, from:

Texas Department of State Health Services. (n.d.). Anotia and microtia.Retrieved April 24, 2010, from: