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Understanding the Causes of Major Birth Defects: Steps to Prevention

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 1pm EST.

Understanding the Causes of Major Birth Defects: Steps to Prevention Birth defects are serious conditions that involve changes to the structure of one or more parts of the body. While the causes of many birth defects are still unknown, their importance and the impact on peoples’ lives are quite clear. Birth defects are common, occurring in 1 of every 33 babies born every year in the United States. Depending on the severity of the defect, the expected lifespan of a person with a birth defect can be greatly reduced. In 2011, of the 24,000 infants that died in their first year of life, 4,800 succumbed due to a birth defect. Additionally, birth defects are a leading cause of pediatric hospitalizations and medical expenditures. It is estimated that 2.6 billion US dollars are spent annually in caring for infants, children, and adults living with a birth defect.

CDC and its partners are working together to identify both genetic and environmental risk factors that may contribute to the development of birth defects. Folic acid fortification has been a major success in the prevention of some types of birth defects and there is ongoing research on the impact of interventions that target obesity, smoking, and diabetes. We have made great advances, but there is still much that can be done to understand and prevent birth defects.

Please join us for this session of Grand Rounds as we discuss some of the research underway to identify the risk factors for birth defects, and develop the key intervention strategies that can be used to help ensure that every child is born in the best possible health.

Presentation

January 2015

Beyond the Data Beyond brings you "take home" messages for you to use in your practice, in your classroom and in your home.

Dr. John Iskander and Dr. Allen Mitchell discuss some of the public health advances in preventing birth defects. Birth defects are common, occurring in 1 in 33 pregnancies and affecting 120,000 babies born each year. While the vast majority of their causes remain unknown, there is much that public health workers and individuals can do to reduce the risk of birth defects.

Public health workers must continue to:

  • Identify genetic and environmental causes of birth defects,
  • Monitor medications that may increase or decrease risk to pregnant women and
  • Implement simple interventions that may help to reduce risk.

Individuals must:

  • Manage pre-pregnancy obesity,
  • Control blood sugar and diabetes and
  • Avoid smoking.

Presented By:

Marcia L.  Feldkamp, PhD, PA
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Genetics
Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah
“The Impact of Birth Defects and Current Understanding of their Causes”

Jennita Reefhuis, PhD
Epidemiology Team Lead, Birth Defects Branch
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
“Advancing Understanding of the Causes of Birth Defects”

Allen A. Mitchell, MD
Director, Slone Epidemiology Center and Professor of Epidemiology and Pediatrics,
Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine
“Birth Defects Research and Emergency Preparedness: The Vaccines and Medications in Pregnancy Surveillance System”

Suzanne Gilboa, PhD, MHS
Partnerships and Applied Epidemiology Team Lead, Birth Defects Branch
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
“Identifying What Else We Can Do To Prevent Birth Defects”

Facilitated By:

John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director, Public Health Grand Rounds

Continuing Education

This session is available for Continuing Education. Click here for more information.

  • Page last reviewed: January 8, 2015
  • Page last updated: January 8, 2015
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