Congenital anomalies are medical conditions or defects inherited from the parents. The child can acquire the anomaly before or during birth. The anomalies can result in a lifetime disability. The most common forms of congenital abnormalities are heart defects, neurological disorders, cleft lips or palate, and Down syndrome. The abnormalities can be the result of genetic, environmental, or nutritional factors. The exact cause of the abnormality may be difficult to determine. Diseases such as Zika and certain STDs can have negative consequences on the developing child. Low- and middle-income countries are the most affected. While not all congenital anomalies are avoidable, many are. Vaccinations, adequate diet, and prenatal care are common prevention methods.
What are congenital uterine anomalies?
Congenital uterine anomalies (CUAs) occur during the embryonic stage of development. Only about 5% of all women experience this condition. The female uterus starts as two halves that fuse. The result is one endometrial cavity with a normal uterine surface. When the uterus does not fuse properly, the result is an anomaly. There is no way to completely prevent this from happening. The removal of risk factors is the best method.
Prevention and treatment
Preconception screening and genetic testing can identify individuals most at risk of passing a congenital disorder onto offspring. A neonatal screening will screen the child for physical or neurological malformations. Early detection allows for lifesaving treatments and prevents the disorder from progressing. Structural anomalies can be treated with pediatric surgery.
The connection to fertility
The malformations are typically not discovered until a female experiences infertility or pregnancy loss. Many uterine anomalies are asymptomatic, although some women will experience painful periods. Pain associated with menstrual cycles is subjective but is not an indicator that fertility will be affected. Many women with this condition are still able to become pregnant. Miscarriages are the most common side effect uterine anomalies have on fertility. A quarter of all miscarriages are the result of this condition. There is currently not enough evidence to draw an exact link between fertility and uterine malformations. Prevention and early detection are the best methods to improve fertility.
Find treatment options
All women trying to get pregnant should aim to follow a nutritious diet and take prenatal supplements. Women with uterine anomalies should consult a healthcare provider regarding fertility and treatment options.