- Date: 15th century
- 1 a : an imperfection that impairs worth or utility : shortcoming <the grave defects in our foreign policy>
- 2 [Latin defectus] : a lack of something necessary for completeness, adequacy, or perfection : deficiency <a hearing defect>
Congenital disorder involves defects in or damage to a developing fetus. It may be the result of genetic abnormalities, the intrauterine (uterus) environment, errors of morphogenesis, infection, or a chromosomal abnormality. The outcome of the disorder will further depend on complex interactions between the pre-natal deficit and the post-natal environment. Animal studies indicate that the mother's (and possibly the father's) diet, vitamin intake, and glucose levels prior to ovulation and conception have long-term effects on fetal growth and adolescent and adult disease. Congenital disorders vary widely in causation and abnormalities. Any substance that causes birth defects is known as a teratogen. The older term congenital disorder does not necessarily refer to a genetic disorder despite the similarity of the words.