Mar 12, 2019

Obesity of mothers could cause birth defects

A program which was jointly organized by the Family Health Bureau, the Sri Lanka Medical Officers' Association and Child Births and several stakeholders working on child births was held at the Sri Lanka Medical Officers' Association Auditorium in line with the World Birth Defects Day.

Discussions were ensued on birth defects extensively at the event.

Genetic or environmental disorders at the embryonic stage are causing birth defects.

Every year, about 360,000 women get pregnant in Sri Lanka and 326,000 live births result. Around 5800 children are born with various birth defects, out of which 650 children die before their first birthday, said Community Medical Expert , Kapila Jayaratne. About 30% of birth disorders are serious birth defects, and although these children live they cannot lead an independent life. About 1,900 deaths are reported in the womb in first 7 months (28 weeks), per year, of which 35% are due to defects.

Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the birth rate of children with birth disorders, maternal mortality rates, infant mortality rates have decreased relative to previous years and many infant deaths are due to cardiac inactivity, gene disorders, thalassemia, etc.

To prevent birth defects it is essential to adhere primary, secondary and tertiary action pathway. Often, disabled children are hospitalized for the treatment as the secondary care. However, it is necessary to identify the reasons for such disabilities and to prevent the causes taking primary steps.

To ensure that children with disabilities are not a burden to society, it is necessary to minimize the disability of their children and to rehabilitate them for livelihoods under tertiary programs. But in Sri Lanka such rehabilitation does not take place properly. The contribution of the community to do such rehabilitation is not sufficient.

Birth defects are due to the complexity of the lifestyle, drugs and smoking, aging mothers, and so on. Pediatric Association Chairman Consultant Dr. Surantha Perera said that taking folic acid based on medical advice, reducing body weight getting folic help preventing birth disorders.

Professor Vajira Dissanayake of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Colombo said it is recommended to do a genetic test for couples who are expecting children as repeated abortions, sub fertility, etc the lead to birth disorders.

Many disabled children, parents, and community based services for them participated in the World Birth Defects Day.