Message from the Director

Message from the Director. Karen Remley

I am pleased to present the 2022 National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) Annual Report.

This past year, there was a continued need for our center’s expertise in the COVID-19 response and the mpox response. Our staff has truly done this balancing act exceptionally well, as demonstrated by the number of programs, publications and collaborations described in our annual report. Our center’s important work has continued to identify potential risk factors for birth defects, collect data on children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, protect the health of people with blood disorders, and improve the health of the 1 in 4 U.S. adults with a disability. Through this work, we provide data to turn into action for our partners, decision makers, state, local, and tribal public health professionals and the American public.

In April, CDC launched its Moving Forward initiative, aimed at refining the agency’s long-standing practices so we can better respond to pandemics and other public health emergencies. The primary goals of Moving Forward are

  • Addressing the long-standing inequities that prevent us from achieving optimal health for all,
  • Strengthening our nation’s long-neglected public health infrastructure, and
  • Improving our disease data collection so we can quickly provide guidance to the public, our partners, public health professionals, and healthcare providers to prevent, rather than react to, disease outbreaks.

NCBDDD has fully embraced these goals in our work plans.  In this Annual Report you will read about our work to improve accessible and timely communications across responses and the agency. Our staff has worked collaboratively with partners and advocates to have easy to read, infographics, and ASL incorporated into all CDC communications. This work is hard, and we are leaning into it:

  • We continue to improve our timely evaluation of data, allowing for quicker opportunities to turn data into action.
  • Our work with the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reduced the time to publication of autism surveillance data by a full year.
  • Our sickle cell disease (SCD) data collection network was expanded to include the impact of COVID-19 on people with SCD, allowing states to quickly learn and react to inequities.
  • The DBDID teams have quickly pivoted to include the impact of mpox in pregnancy into their work, all while improving the timeliness and ease of data collection.

CDC Moving Forward demands that we are actionable, collaborative, and communicative and participate in building a strong public health workforce.

As you read our report, you will see that the professionals of NCBDDD are up to the challenge!  I continue to be amazed by our wonderful NCBDDD staff and their forward-leaning, collaborative, and evidence-based approach to reaching our goal of optimal health, equity, and inclusion for all.

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