The World Birth Defects Day 2020 celebration comes up on March 3rd every year and the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of UNIMEDTHC, Dr. Micheal Gbala has described the day as one set aside to raise awareness on congenital anomalies as the main cause of birth defect, also it is a day to advocate for surveillance prevention and management care on congenital disorder in pregnant women.
He said the day will be used in the Teaching Hospital to strengthen evidence on ethology, diagnosis and sensitize the public on pre-conceptual care as one of the panacea to minimize health hazards in our society.
Oluwatope Akinjide, Head, Media and Publicity of UNIMEDTHC in a statement disclosed that Dr. Micheal Gbala, a Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecologist explained that about 3-6% of infants worldwide are born with serious birth defect with life –altering conditions like spina bifida and congenital heart defects which affect sadly millions of babies and families. He said birth defects can affect babies regardless of where they are born their socioeconomic status or their race or ethnicity and they are to face a lifetime severe disability.
Gbala disclosed that poor care during pregnancy, micronutrient deficiencies, infections on pregnant mothers and exposure to alcohol causes birth defect in babies.
He also said exposure to certain medications and chemicals may cause it and women with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes are also at a higher risk of having a child with a birth defect. While genetics may pass genetic abnormalities from parents to the baby through a change or mutation that results in them not working properly.
Earlier speaking, Dr. Mrs Tolulope Ogundele a Consultant Pediatrician aforementioned that world birth defect day is set aside to develop holistic plans for implementation of effective interventions to prevent and manage birth defects. She identified some common causes of birth deformation to deficient in folic acid before and during pregnancy and she recommended that women of reproductive age should get 400micrograms of folic acid each day to help prevent neural tube defects.
Ogundele, also pointed out that maternal illness where mother transmit certain illness to babies during pregnancy may cause it, using self-medications and herbal drugs during pregnancy may affect the child formation. She said that birth defect is common in the hospital but most cases are associated with pregnant women who don’t attend antenatal clinics.
Dr. Micheal Gbala described how the birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy by using prenatal ultrasound to know certain birth defects in utero and how the defects can be treated through medications or lower the risk of complications, correct abnormality before birth. He also said surgeries can also fix certain defects or ease harmful symptoms in infant with birth defect.
The CMAC advised the public most especially women how they can prevent birth defects or lower the risk of having one. He said women should plan very well for their pregnancy they should take folic acid supplement before conception and also during pregnancy. More so, women should avoid alcohol, tobacco during pregnancy and be cautious when taking certain medications.
He said Ondo State Abiyamo Maternal and Child Health Insurance Scheme of the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) prioritise the health of pregnant women and children under five by paying their premium will go a long way to prevent the menace of birth defects in Ondo state if the pregnant women attend their antenatal clinic regularly.