Birth defects are abnormal conditions that happen before or at the time of birth. Some are mild–like an extra finger or toe. Some are very serious–like a heart defect. They can cause physical, mental, or medical problems. Some, like Down syndrome or sickle cell anemia, are caused by genetic factors. Others are caused by certain drugs, medicines or chemicals. But the causes of most birth defects are still a mystery. Researchers are working hard to learn the causes of birth defects so that we can find ways to prevent them.
Not all birth defects can be prevented. But a woman can increase her own chance of having a healthy baby. Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Remember that about half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
Want to Know More?
Ask your health care professional or local health department how to plan for a healthy baby.
Visit the March of Dimes website: http://marchofdimes.com
Call the Birth Defects Registry or Genetics Program at your state health department.
National Birth Defects Prevention Network
1321 Upland Drive, Suite 1561
Houston, TX 77043
Contact: Marlene Anderka, ScD, MPH
“Source: 2019 National Health Observances, National Health Information Center, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.”