Saving Babies Through Surveillance, Research, and Prevention of Birth Defects and Infant Disorders
CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) is working towards a day when all babies are born with the best health possible.
Birth defects and infant disorders, such as neonatal abstinence syndrome, are common, costly, and critical. Our unique state-based birth defects tracking, public health research, and world-renowned expertise provide a wealth of information used to
- Identify causes of birth defects and infant disorders;
- Find opportunities to prevent them; and
- Improve the health of those living with these conditions.
Together with states, academic centers, healthcare providers, and other partners, we are working towards a day when all babies are born with the best health possible and every child thrives.
Birth defects cause 1 in every 5 deaths during the first year of life
Data for Action
The 2016 Zika virus outbreak highlighted the need to collect high-quality, mother-infant linked surveillance data that track exposures during pregnancy and monitor health outcomes at birth and in early childhood. These data were essential to better understand this emerging threat to mothers and their babies. Collecting real-time, actionable information allows NCBDDD to inform evidence-based clinical guidance, link families to medical and social services, and ensure state, local, and territorial public health agencies are ready and prepared to meet the needs of pregnant women and infants during public health emergencies.
- Data from NCBDDD’s mother-infant Zika virus surveillance serve as a foundation to inform clinical guidance and travel and prevention recommendations, as demonstrated through Committee Opinions of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and CDC’s travel and clinical guidance related to Zika virus.
- Surveillance data collected before and during the Zika virus outbreak demonstrated about a 30-fold increase in Zika-associated birth defects among pregnancies with laboratory evidence of confirmed or possible Zika virus infection, compared to a baseline prevalence and demonstrated an increased risk for neurodevelopmental abnormalities associated with congenital Zika virus infection. This led to recommendations for continued monitoring and evaluation of all children with possible Zika virus exposure during pregnancy.
- The surveillance approach for Zika virus has been adapted to respond to other emerging threats that affect pregnant women and infants, such as congenital syphilis, hepatitis C virus, and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
- NCBDDD worked with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to establish a new standardized case definition for neonatal abstinence syndrome that will be used for state and national surveillance.
NCBDDD will continue its work to protect women and babies by tracking birth defects and infant disorders and through public health research. These activities provide knowledge about the factors that might increase or decrease the risk of having a baby with a birth defect or infant disorder. NCBDDD’s work on Zika virus is a reminder of the medical vulnerability of mothers and babies to emerging infections and other health threats, such as the opioid crisis and natural disasters. NCBDDD’s Surveillance of Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies program will continue to leverage the innovative tracking and monitoring system developed to combat Zika virus, work to understand the full impact of Zika virus on infants and children, and adapt this system to capture data on other emerging threats that may affect mothers and babies. NCBDDD will expand work with states and partners to build upon birth defects surveillance systems and explore more accurate ways of estimating the number of infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, as well as the health needs for these children. NCBDDD also aims to improve our understanding of the spectrum of maternal, infant, and child health outcomes following treatment for opioid use disorder during pregnancy. This effort, known as MATernaL and Infant NetworK to Understand Outcomes Associated with Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder during Pregnancy (MAT-LINK), will establish a surveillance network of clinical sites to collect data towards these aims.
Notable Scientific Publications
- Chen MY, Rose CE, Qi YP, Williams JL, Yeung LF, Berry RJ, Hao L, Cannon MJ, Crider KS. Defining the plasma folate concentration associated with the red blood cell folate concentration threshold for optimal neural tube defects prevention: A population-based, randomized trial of folic acid supplementationexternal icon. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;109(5):1452–1461.
- Crider KS, Devine O, Qi YP, Yeung LF, Sekkarie A, Zaganjor I, Wong E, Rose CE, Berry RJ. Systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis of the dose-response relationship between folic acid intake and changes in blood folate concentrationsexternal icon. Nutrients. 2019;11(1).
- Denny CH, Acero CS, Naimi TS, Kim SY. Consumption of alcohol beverages and binge drinking among pregnant women aged 18–44 years—United States, 2015–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68:365–368.
- Frey MT, Meaney-Delman D, Bowen V, Yazdy MM, Watkins SM, Thorpe PG, Honein MA. Surveillance for emerging threats to pregnant women and infantsexternal icon. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2019;28(8):1031–1036.
- Glidewell J, Grosse SD, Riehle-Colarusso T, Pinto N, Hudson J, Daskalov R, Gaviglio A, Darby E, Singh S, Sontag M. Actions in support of newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease—United States, 2011–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68:107–111.
- Lind JN, Ailes EC, Alter CC, Fornoff JE, Broziceyic P, Garcia Saavedra LF, Tomedi LE, Gambatese M, Carroll B, Orantes L, Brennan M, Horne AA, Reefhuis J. Leveraging existing birth defects surveillance infrastructure to build neonatal abstinence syndrome surveillance systems—Illinois, New Mexico, and Vermont, 2015–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68:177–180.
- Olson SM, Delaney A, Jones AM, Carr CP, Liberman RF, Forestieri NE, Tong VT, Gilboa SM, Honein MA, Moore CA, Cragan JD. Updated baseline prevalence of birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infectionexternal icon. Birth Defects Res. 2019;111(13):938–940.
- Raesima MM, Ogbuabo CM, Thomas V, Forhan SE, Gokatweng G, Dintwa E, Petlo C, Motswere-Chirwa C, Rabold EM, Tinker SC, Odunsi S, Malima S, Mmunyane O, Modise T, Kefitlhile K, Dare K, Letebele M, Roland ME, Moore CA, Modi S, Williamson DM. Dolutegravir use at conception—additional surveillance data from Botswanaexternal icon. N Engl J Med. 2019;381:885–887.
- Short TD, Stallings EB, Isenburg J, O’Leary L, Yazdy MM, Bohm MK, Ethen M, Chen X, Tran T, Fox DJ, Fornoff J, Forestieri N, Ferrell E, Ramirez CM, Kim J, Shi J, Cho SJ, Duckett K, Nelson N, Zielke K, St. John K, Martin B, Clark C, Huynh M, Benusa C, Reefhuis J. Gastroschisis trends and ecologic link to opioid prescription rates—United States, 2006–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(2):31–36.
- Tinker SC, Gilboa SM, Moore CA, Waller K, Simeone RM, Kim SY, Jamieson DJ, Botto LD, Reefhuis J. Specific birth defects in pregnancies of women with diabetes: National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997–2011external icon. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Aug 24. 2019;222:176.