Be Wary Of These 11 Things That May Cause Birth Defects

Pregnancy demands that moms be extremely careful with their health. Steer clear of anything that poses a risk to your baby. Even getting sick when you are carrying isn’t considered alright as the infection could spread to the baby, hindering their normal development and increasing the risk of preterm labor, miscarriage and birth defects.

No parent wants their baby to suffer and be the reason behind their discomfort. Here are 15 things moms must be wary about during pregnancy to prevent any threats to their baby’s health.


1. Being An Overweight Or Underweight Mother

Your body must be capable and healthy to hold a life. If your own health is at stake, it can affect your baby’s one way or the other.

An overweight mother can invite other problems like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure risking the health of the baby. If she is underweight, her body isn’t receiving essential nutrients and will be unable to sufficiently provide nourishment for the baby’s growth.


It is crucial that moms gain their pregnancy weight in moderation.

2. Cheating On Pregnancy Diet With Wine

Drinking could be the worst habit you could engage in during pregnancy. You don’t have to be highly intoxicated with alcohol to cause a harm to your baby’s health. Consuming alcohol even in moderation could be dangerous for the fetus.


Fetal alcohol syndrome is the name given to the birth defects that arise when the mother continues to drink alcohol during pregnancy—it could result in retarded mental growth, malformations in the facial features and defects in organ systems.

3. Catching An Infection

You can pass an infection to your baby either when they are still in the womb or during birth. Diseases like flu, group B strep, and chicken pox could affect them, causing serious birth defects if left untreated.


A mother suffering from flu during pregnancy risks her baby having a permanent brain damage. Group B strep can cause heart issues, breathing problems, kidney and gastrointestinal ailments. If the mother gets chicken pox later in pregnancy, the risk of birth defects increases manifolds, with baby getting infected with the disease itself.

4. Taking Medications Without A Prescription

Mothers are always advised against going for over-the-counter medication. Take only those medicines during pregnancy that have been prescribed by your doctors as some drugs can do serious harm to your baby, which includes birth defects.


Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines can cause clefts, vision disorders, and hinder brain and skull development. If you were on anti-depressant drugs prior to conception, you must let your doctor know as these have been known to cause neural tube defects, abnormalities in limb formation and heart defects.

5. Undergoing X-Ray Scans

X-ray scans during pregnancy is a strict no—the high-frequency radiation can cause cellular damage in the developing fetus. It can result in physical impairment like retarded growth and a small head. X-rays can also impact the brain development in the fetus.


If you are going for an x-ray under any circumstances, let your doctor know about your pregnancy, so that they can provision preventing a high exposure to the baby.

6. Suffering From Diabetes During Pregnancy

Diabetes can either be gestational or the mother may be suffering from it before conceiving—risks in both cases remain the same. A high blood sugar level increases the risk of birth defects that may turn severe and cause fetal death if the condition is left untreated.


Your pregnancy will be constantly be monitored if you are diagnosed with diabetes. Find out more about gestational diabetes.

7. Risking Infection By Handling Cat Litter

Your pet is the not the problem, but their poop may be. Cat litter contains a parasite that could cause toxoplasmosis infection. If you get infected during pregnancy or some months before conception, it could still put your unborn baby at the risk of birth defects related to eye or brain.

Ask your partner to clean the cat litter, otherwise, wear gloves and cover your face when doing so. Wash your hands properly after you are done with the cleaning.

8. Contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Having an intercourse with multiple or untested partners puts you at a higher risk of getting an STD. If you have STD and get pregnant, your baby is likely to suffer various disabilities and deformities as a result of the infection being transmitted from you to them.

Sexually transmitted diseases can result in a miscarriage or preterm delivery if they are not attended to when the mom is carrying. It could also cause blood infection, joint infection or complete blindness.

It is better to be safe, use appropriate protection, and avoid getting pregnant than conceiving a baby only to see them suffer while clinging to their lives.

9. Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking and pregnancy never go together. It can cost your little one a happy life if you can’t abstain from keeping down that butt. Resulting in birth defects like cleft, heart defects, club foot, gastronomical, and eye defects—basically, everything negative. Why risk your pregnancy and health of your baby with the drag of a cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes are safe either as the harmful chemical vapors are still reaching your baby through the placenta. It is best to kick the habit for your baby than to watch your little one suffer due to the effects.

10. Conceiving Later In Life

The risk of birth abnormalities increases with the age of the mother. A missing or damaged chromosome could be the root cause of a birth defect and the result is likely when you have crossed the window of fertility. Having a baby between the age of 35-40 years comes with a high risk of birth defects apart from the difficulties to conceive.

For instance, conceiving at the age of 40 has been linked with an increased a risk of Down syndrome in babies. Every 1 in 106 babies is observed to have down syndrome if mother’s age is around 40, whereas the chromosomal abnormality is observed in every 1 in 66 births.

Plan your pregnancy without putting your unborn baby’s health at risk.

11. Being Exposed To Pesticides

Pesticides can do serious harm to the fetus causing congenital disorders, lower birth weight, and conditions like autism. Exposure to high levels can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, and birth defects.

Not only that, some chemicals like metallic dyes, nail paint remover, gasoline, furniture paint, insecticides are all toxic for your baby, causing neural tube and heart defects—limb abnormalities have also been observed in such cases.

As a mother, you have to take care of everything to ensure your unborn baby’s safety. You can easily avoid most of these things and prevent your little one from suffering lifelong. Refrain from traveling overseas when you are pregnant to prevent getting infected. Eat healthily and avoid uncooked foods and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk.

If you are concerned about a health issue, an allergy or a symptom you feel could be harmful to you or your baby, let your doctor know as soon as possible.