Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Birth defects

1-minute read

Birth defects are quite common. Some are minor and cause little, if any, long term problems. Other birth defects are life threatening or cause significant disability. 

Birth defects may affect how the body looks and functions, such as structural problems with bones, skin, nerves or tissues. Examples include cleft lip, spina bifida and neural tube defects. Birth defects can also cause mental disabilities. 

Some of the causes of birth defects include:

Follow the links below to find trusted information about birth defects.

Last reviewed: July 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Developmental Bone Birth Defect (Achondrogenesis) | myVMC

Achondrogenesis is a birth defect of the bone and cartilage thought to be hereditary. It may cause stillbirth or infant death due to small chest.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Heart abnormality birth defects - Better Health Channel

Some congenital heart defects are mild and cause no significant disturbance to the way the heart functions.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

What is a congenital disorder?

Congenital disorder, also known as congenital disease or birth defects, are conditions present from birth. Find out more about congenital disorders.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Having a baby with special needs

Sometimes babies are not born healthy or normal. Some parents will have a baby who has a birth defect, who is developmentally delayed or a baby who is born with special needs.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defect (CHD) or congenital heart anomaly is a defect in the structure of the heart and great vessels that is present at birth

Read more on WA Health website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Folic acid (Folate)

Folate is a B group vitamin that helps prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folic acid is changed into folate in the body.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

How did this happen? | Heart Centre for Children

When parents first discover that their baby or child has a heart abnormality, it is common to ask, Why has this happened? and How can I stop this from happening again?

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Septal Defects | Heart Centre for Children

Information about Septal Defects including ASD, VSD, Atrioventricular Septal Defect and other holes in the heart.

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Smoking during pregnancy may lead to behavior problems in children

Researchers have now found evidence that smoking during pregnancy can also lead to behaviourial problems in children.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Childhood Heart Disease Heart Centre for Children

The Heart Centre for Children is based at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney.

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo