Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Birth Defects

What causes birth defects?

We know the cause for some birth defects, but for most, we don’t. That’s because we think most birth defects are caused by a complex mix of factors. There are some factors that can increase the chance of having a baby with a birth defect. These are called risk factors and include:

  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking certain “street” drugs during pregnancy.
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as obesity or uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Taking certain medications, such as some acne drugs.
  • Having someone in your family with a birth defect.
  • Being an older mother, typically over 34.
  • And exposure to some chemicals and viruses during pregnancy.
Having one or more of these factors doesn’t necessarily mean your baby will have a birth defect. It is important to talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve your chances to have a healthy baby.
Top