What is a ''congenital'' abnormality

Congenital abnormalities are usually considered as those that have developed in the absence of a genetic or chromosomal cause, and occur when the baby has developed an abnormality in the womb often for no apparent reason. Rarely it is because of an infection (such as toxoplasmosis or german measles), dietary deficiencies or certain drugs that you might have been given early in pregnancy. These abnormalities include hare lip, cleft palate, heart defects, spina bifida, absent limbs or extra digits. Most of these abnormalities are detectable on ultrasound at 18-22 weeks. Often the baby is otherwise completely normal and the less severe congenital abnormalities such as hare lip, talipes (club foot) and extra digits can usually be dealt with by surgery to give a good cosmetic repair after the baby is born. Severe congenital abnormalities such as major heart and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) malformations often result in miscarriage or death of the baby before 24 weeks; these defects can almost always be picked up with ultrasound screening.
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