KABUL (Pajhwok): In order to prevent birth defects in children, doctors advise serious care and no use of arbitrary drugs during pregnancy and say marriage with close relatives should be avoided as well.
Although the Ministry of Public Health does not provide accurate statistics on birth defects in the country, but information provided by one of the maternity hospitals in Kabul show that dozens of malformed babies are born in one year.
What is malformed birth of babies?
Dr Malalai Rahim Faizi, director of Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “Changes in the baby during birth, which include all body parts, both internal and external, are called birth defects, some of which are visible, but others are internal, like congenital heart diseases and tumors inside the baby’s head.”
Dr Faizi said diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, genetic diseases, heredity and nutritional poverty were also among main factors behind birth defects.
He added: “Folic acid deficiency also plays a role in birth defects, mothers should use folic acid medicines both before and after pregnancy.”
She also said the age of mother and father was also related to this problem, conception before the age of eighteen and above 35 years may also cause malformed births.
“When a mother wants to get pregnant, she must be under the care of a gynecologist and obstetrician because all details are known from the point of view of age, blood type, health problems and other characteristics of the mother,” she explained.
She considered the advice of doctor before pregnancy to be necessary and added: “In general, we do not have as many families who want to get pregnant to seek advice from doctor and complete some examinations so that the doctor can tell what a mother should do during pregnancy.”
Dr. Faizi has no information about the overall birth statistics of malformed babies in the country.
Meanwhile, Dr. Najm al-Sama Shafajo, an obstetrician-gynecologist and head of the Afghan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Pajhwok Afghan News that no research has been conducted in Afghanistan about the number of malformations and how many malformed babies are born every year.
She added: “Marriage at a very young or old age, smoking cigarettes by oneself or family members, arbitrary use of some drugs, intervention of some drugs such as blood drugs, and also family marriages cause birth defects.”
Dr. Najm al-Sama emphasized: “There are many couples whose blood groups are the same, which is a congenital defect, or on the contrary, it is possible that they do not have a defect. I emphasize that only examining the blood does not allow us to know that it is suitable for family marriages.”
She pointed out ultrasound examinations could detect birth defects, but it was not always possible to recognize it.
According to her, diseases such as diabetes, high and uncontrollable blood pressure also cause birth defects.
She added t iron deficiency was the main cause of birth defects: “Women with folic acid deficiency may have children such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and children whose legs are crooked, or children who have large tumors on their backs. Or give birth to children with watery heads, but if they take folic acid during pregnancy and before pregnancy, these problems can be prevented.”
She advised that all women should use folic acid six months before pregnancy, if they do not use it for six months, they should use folic acid three months before pregnancy and after that decide to get pregnant in order to prevent birth defects in children.
Shafajo said that drugs recommended by doctors should be used regularly and pregnant women should avoid stress and X-rays. Vaccinations during pregnancy should be applied regularly.
Mothers who gave birth to malformed children
Halima, a resident of Qala Zaman Khan in Kabul and the mother of a four-year-old child who is deformed, told Pajhwok: “My daughter Sadia was born four years ago and since then she has not been normal. When I was giving birth, the doctors induced labor that affected my child’s head and he could not breathe properly.”
According to her, his daughter, who is now four years old, does not have the ability to talk or walk.
Also Nadera, another resident of Kabul, who gave birth to a malformed child, said: “My son was born seven years ago, he can’t walk, he can’t talk, everything we tried didn’t work.”
She does not know the reason why she gave birth to a malformed child, but said her other two children were normal and healthy.