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Should children born with birth defects have surgery?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/22/2018 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 856 times Debate No: 116772
Debate Rounds (3)
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What is a birth defect?
A "birth defect" is a health problem or physical change, which is present in a baby at the time he or she is born. Birth defects may be very mild, where the baby looks and acts like any other baby, or birth defects may be very severe, where you can immediately tell there is a health problem present. Some of the severe birth defects can be life-threatening, where a baby may only live a few months, or may die at a young age (in their teens, for example).

Birth defects are also called "congenital anomalies" or "congenital abnormalities." The word "congenital" means "present at birth." The words "anomalies" and "abnormalities" mean that there is a problem present in a baby.

What causes birth defects to occur?

There are many reasons why birth defects happen. Most occur due to environmental and genetic factors, but often the cause is unknown.

Who is affected by birth defects?

Birth defects have been present in babies from all over the world, in families of all nationalities and backgrounds. Anytime a couple becomes pregnant, there is a chance that their baby will have a birth defect. Most babies are born healthy. In fact, 97 out of 100 babies are born healthy.

Why are birth defects a concern?
Although some birth defects have a single abnormality, others have abnormalities in multiple body systems or organs. Birth defects may cause lifelong disability and illness, and with some, survival is not possible.

Some birth defects, such as intellectual disability, are non-treatable disabilities. However, many physical birth defects can be treated with surgery. Repair is possible for many birth defects including cleft lip or palate, and certain heart defects.

How are birth defects diagnosed?
Many birth defects can be diagnosed before birth with special tests (prenatal diagnosis). Chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome can be diagnosed before birth by analyzing cells in the amniotic fluid or from the placenta. Fetal ultrasound during pregnancy can also give information about the possibility of certain birth defects, but ultrasound is not 100 percent accurate, since some babies with birth defects may look the same on ultrasound as those without problems. A chromosome analysis, whether performed on a blood sample or cells from the amniotic fluid or placenta, is very accurate.

Tests that help screen for birth defects include the following:

Alpha-fetoprotein. This blood test measures the levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein released by the fetal liver and found in the mother's blood. AFP is sometimes called MSAFP (maternal serum AFP). AFP screening may be included as one part of a two, three, or four-part screening, often called a multiple marker screen. The other parts may include the following:

HCG. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone secreted by the early placental cells. High hCG levels may indicate a fetus with Down syndrome (a chromosomal abnormality that includes intellectual disability and distinct physical features).

Estriol. A hormone produced by the placenta and by the fetal liver and adrenal glands. Low levels may indicate a fetus with Down syndrome.

Inhibin. A hormone produced by the placenta.

Nuchal translucency screening. An ultrasound test usually performed in the late first trimester. Thickening of the area at the back of the fetal neck may indicate an increased risk for Down syndrome or other chromosomal problems.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). A prenatal test that involves taking a sample of some of the placental tissue. This tissue contains the same genetic material as the fetus and can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities and some other genetic problems. Testing is available for other genetic defects and disorders depending on the family history and availability of laboratory testing at the time of the procedure. In comparison to amniocentesis (another type of prenatal test), CVS does not provide information on neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. For this reason, women who undergo CVS also need a follow-up blood test between 16 to 18 weeks of their pregnancy, to screen for neural tube defects.

Amniocentesis. A procedure used to obtain a small sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus to diagnose chromosomal disorders and open neural tube defects (ONTDs), such as spina bifida. Testing is available for other genetic defects and disorders depending on the family history and availability of laboratory testing at the time of the procedure. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends amniocentesis around 15 weeks to 20 weeks of pregnancy for those women who are at increased risk for chromosome abnormalities, such as women who are over age 35 years of age at delivery, or those who have had an abnormal maternal serum screening test, indicating an increased risk for a chromosomal abnormality or neural tube defect. However, in some situations, amniocentesis may be performed as early as 14 weeks.

Ultrasound. A diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. Many birth defects can be detected with ultrasound.

Sometimes, birth defects are not diagnosed until physical examination of the baby after birth. To confirm the physical findings, a small blood sample can be taken and the chromosomes can be analyzed. This information is important in determining the risk for that birth defect in future pregnancies.

Prevention of birth defects
Research is ongoing to find and treat the causes of many birth defects. Immunizations of the mother against certain infections, such as rubella, can prevent birth defects caused by that infection. Much has been learned about the dangerous effects of alcohol on the developing baby and women are advised to not drink alcohol during pregnancy. In recent years, a strong link has been discovered between the lack of the B-vitamin folic acid and the development of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Taking a vitamin containing sufficient folic acid before conception and in early pregnancy can often help prevent many serious birth defects.




What I believe is that we both are right, but wrong at the same time, I searched information about the debate's theme and I found a very interesting and (At my point of view) informatively complete web page called which says that "informed consent is a right of all individuals and no one can force anyone to receive treatment persists in individuals who are incompetent from a legal point of view". I admit that sometimes (actually the most of the times) children who were born with birth defects should have surgery because legally they are not able to decide medically... However (quoting the previous mentioned page) "parental authority isn't absolute and there are situations where their decisions are not the best interest of the child". In birth defects that are superficial and non-lethal like harelip and cleft palate children should be allowed to decide if they want to be operated or not. In addition, there are some cases when the surgery could kill the patient like brain and cranial deformities, in this cases the best option is wait until the child grows so becomes healthier and the surgery becomes less dangerous. So yes, children who were born with birth defects should have surgery but not in all cases
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Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by whyareusodumb 3 years ago
What kind of debate question is this. This is so one sided nobody in the world could defend the con position
Posted by BertrandsTeapot 3 years ago
Are there really people who don't think children with birth defects should be operated on?
Posted by DeletedUser 3 years ago
Solid argument Charleskay. Keep up the good work!!
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