Because the symptoms and problems caused by birth defects vary, treatments for birth defects also vary. Treatments range from medications, to therapies, to surgeries, to assistive devices.
For example, in the Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS), conducted through the NICHD’s Maternal-Fetal Surgery Network, researchers tested a surgical procedure to correct a severe form of spina bifida while the fetus was still in the womb. Although the surgery itself carried many risks, the surgery greatly reduced health complications for the infants who received it while in utero. Visit http://nichd.nih.gov/news/resources/spotlight/pages/021011-spina-bifida-MOMS.aspx for more information.
Gene therapy approaches, in which a gene that is mutated or missing is replaced by a normal version of the gene, are being tested for a variety of genetic disorders. Some examples of disorders that have been treated successfully in gene therapy experiments are genetic disorders of the immune system, the muscles, and the eyes.
Visit clinicaltrials.gov to search for ongoing trials of gene therapies for different genetic disorders.
If someone in your family has a birth defect, discuss treatment options with that individual’s health care provider or providers.