BookmarkBookmarkTick

Q&A: Birth Defect Risks?

I'm considering having prenatal genetic testing. How do I know if my baby is at increased risk of birth defects?
ByPaula Kashtan
Updated
Jan 2017
Hero Image
Image: Michela Ravasio

First, remember that an increased risk isn’t an assurance that baby will actually have a genetic or chromosomal disorder… just as a totally normal risk doesn’t mean baby won’t. Evaluate your own risk by looking back at the family history of both you and your husband. Your future child is at heightened risk of any disorders that show up here. If either of you are carriers for a genetic disorder (carrier screenings can detect this) or you’ve already had a child with a defect, your baby’s odds also increase. Other factors that heighten risk are your age (baby’s likelihood of having a defect rises as you age, particularly once you hit 35) and whether you took specific  medications at the time of conception or had  diabetes prior to getting pregnant. You may also be asked to consider diagnostic testing if a routine prenatal test such as ultrasound, nuchal translucency screening or the triple/quad screen suggests a potential problem.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

Related Video
expectant black couple embraces pregnancy bump

Climate Change Is Tied to Pregnancy Risks—and Affects Black Moms Most

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
06/19/2020
pregnant woman looking at sonogram

What Is Cervidil?

profile picture of Ashley Roman, MD
Ashley Roman, MD
OB-GYN
pregnant shawn johnson

How Shawn Johnson Is Staying Positive Through Pregnancy Complications

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
10/15/2019
pregnant woman at the store looking in the medication aisle

Women Who Suffer From This Pregnancy Symptom Are More Likely to Have a C-Section

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
07/01/2019
pregnant woman sits on the couch and looks at phone

This Simple Test Can Diagnose Preeclampsia in Three Minutes

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/22/2019
woman in early pregnancy touching her belly

New Study Finds Non-Invasive Test Can Detect Preeclampsia Early in Pregnancy

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/13/2019
proud dad outside with his arms up in the air

Dad's Powerful Twitter Thread Shows the Reality of Down Syndrome

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/25/2019
Pregnant mom holding belly in hospital gown, bed; UK mom and baby have lifesaving surgery from inside womb

Unborn Baby Receives Lifesaving Surgery From Inside the Womb

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/12/2019
pregnant woman in pain holding stomach on couch

Here’s How to Protect Yourself From Dangerous Blood Clots During Pregnancy

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
09/04/2018
Article removed.