A birth defect (congenital anomaly)
is a health problem or abnormal physical change that is present when a baby is born.
Birth defects can be very mild,
where the baby looks and acts like any other baby. Or birth defects can be more severe.
Some birth defects cause a single problem. Others cause problems in more than one body
system or organ. Birth defects may cause lifelong disability and illness. Some severe
birth defects can be life-threatening. A baby may live for only a few weeks or months.
Or a child may die at a young age, such as when he or she is a teen.
Some birth defects can’t be cured.
These include defects that cause learning or thinking problems. But many physical birth
defects can be treated with surgery. Repair is possible for many birth defects,
including cleft lip or cleft palate, and certain heart defects.