Congenital cataracts can occur in newborn babies for many reasons, such as hereditary diseases, infections, metabolic diseases, diabetes,trauma, inflammation or side effects of medications.
For example, tetracycline antibiotics used to treat infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause cataracts in newborn babies.
Congenital cataracts can also occur when, during pregnancy, the mother develops infections such as measles or rubella (the most common cause), chickenpox, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, polio, influenza, Epstein-Barr virus, syphilis and toxoplasmosis.
Older babies and children can also be diagnosed with cataracts, known as pediatric cataracts, for similar reasons. However, trauma associated with events such as a blow to the eye is the underlying cause in 40 percent of cataract cases in older children.
Also, some pediatric cataracts may actually be congenital cataracts that simply were not detected earlier because the child did not have the first eye examination until grew up.