Birth Defects Affect Many Babies - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Birth Defects Affect Many Babies

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 33 babies are born with a major birth defect in the United States.

For Morgan Kennedy she thought she had the "perfect pregnancy."  During the nine months, Morgan went in for routine ultrasounds and adopted healthy behaviors to increase her chances of having a healthy pregnancy. But, little did she know, things would soon change after delivery.

"He was wheeled into the room, and the pediatrician didn't actually tell us until that night just based on features and different characteristics that he portrayed.  We got the diagnosis that he had down syndrome and a PDA, which is a heart defect as well," says Morgan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart defects are the most common birth defects. They occur in about 1 in every 100 births in the U.S. each year. While about 6,000 babies in the country are born with down syndrome.

"There are unforeseen problems under the best of circumstances with a totally healthy mom who had prenatal care.  There are a lot of things that, you know, are unforeseen," says Trinity Medical of Newborn ICU director, Linda Zak.

 Morgan delivered Sawyer on October 30, 2013 at Trinity Hospital in Minot.  And, after her worst nightmare became reality, the family began to cope with their son's diagnosis.

 "It's just really hard because, you envision this perfect little baby, your son, and you have all these hopes and dreams for him. And then you get this diagnosis of down syndrome and it kind of throws you for a loop," says Morgan.

"We were in the hospital for awhile, so it was just really hard.  We had to stay in the NICU for a couple of weeks.  We were pretty emotional about it, you know, just trying to swallow the pill of this really happening," says Thomas.

 As time passes, things have slowly improved for Kennedy family. Sawyer is now 10 weeks old and visits the Denver Children's Hospital for routine visits with specialty doctors. While things haven't gotten easier, the Kennedy family says they're just trying to take it one day at a time.

 "We waited so long for this and it's just great. I mean, parenthood is wonderful even with this diagnosis," says Morgan.  "So, we're embracing it all and trying to give him the best life possible."

 Thomas says, "It's a ton of joy. I couldn't imagine having life without him."

While not all birth defects can be prevented, woman can increase their chances of having a healthy pregnancy by adopting healthy behaviors, such as not drinking alcohol or smoking, eating healthy, managing current health conditions, and taking prenatal vitamins.

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