During pregnancy many women are concerned about the health and development of their baby. As you learn about genetic testing options, it can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that although you may be hearing about these genetic conditions and birth defects a lot during your pregnancy, they are usually quite rare, occurring in only 3-4% of all births. We like to remind people that 96-97% of babies are born without any birth defects or genetic conditions.
This number, 3-4%, is called the background risk or chance of a birth defect. What this means is that 3-4 out of every 100 babies born will have some type of birth defect; this also means that 96-97 of them will not.
There are many different causes of birth defects, and many birth defects have some genetic basis or influence. However, in many cases, doctors are not able to determine the cause or the reason for the birth defect.
Below is a list of some of the causes and/or types of genetic conditions and birth defects:
Some of the most common genetic conditions and birth defects encountered or discussed during the pregnancy are those that can be detected through prenatal screening and/or diagnosis, are seen on prenatal ultrasound or are routinely discussed due to carrier screening recommendations. While it may be common to discuss these conditions, it is important to remember that most of these conditions are rare. There are many great resources available that provide information on these conditions and others; the Genetic Support Foundation has compiled up-to-date information and resource links to help you get started.