Inpatient Hospital Stays Related to Birth Defects Cost Nearly $23 Billion in 2013

Photo of baby being examined by a doctor

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical conditions that affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. New CDC research estimates that hospitalizations among people with birth defects cost the U.S. healthcare system approximately $23 billion in 2013. You can read the article or read more below for a summary of this study’s findings.

About the Study

Researchers used data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Projectexternal icon (HCUP) 2013 National Inpatient Sampleexternal icon (NIS), which gathers information from U.S. community hospitals. In this study, researchers looked at the annual cost of birth defect-associated hospitalizations in the United States for patients of all ages.

Main Findings

  • Hospital stays related to any birth defect cost the U.S. healthcare system approximately $23 billion in 2013.
  • Birth defect hospitalizations accounted for 3% of all hospitalizations and 5% of total hospital costs.
  • Costs were particularly high for hospitalizations related to congenital heart defects, which cost more than $6 billion in 2013.
  • Costs were highest for patients less than 1 year of age, totaling about $9 billion in 2013.
  • Estimates of the cost of hospital stays related to any birth defect provide important information on how birth defects impact the overall healthcare system. The information can be used to support prevention and early detection of birth defects, and care throughout life for people with birth defects.

Median Costs of Selected Specific Birth Defects in 2013

Graph shows the Median Costs of Selected Specific Birth Defects in 2013.   Coarctation of the Aorta cost 77.3 thousand dollars in 2013.   Omphalocele cost 76.7 thousand dollars in 2013.   Gastroschisis cost 75.6 thousand dollars in 2013.   Tetralogy of Fallot cost 75.2 thousand dollars in 2013.   Anotia/Microtia cost 59.5 thousand dollars in 2013.   Ventricular Septal Defects cost 46.4 thousand dollars in 2013.   Encephalocele cost 28.9 thousand dollars in 2013.   Microcephaly cost 27.1 thousand dollars in 2013.   Cleft Palate cost 26.1 thousand dollars in 2013.   Atrial Septal Defects cost 23.5 thousand dollars in 2013.   Down Syndrome cost 22.4 thousand dollars in 2013.   Hypospadias cost 18.7 thousand dollars in 2013.   Cleft Lip with Cleft Palate cost 17.9 thousand dollars in 2013.   Cleft Lip cost 11.5 thousand dollars in 2013.   Median cost can be found by arranging all costs for each specific birth defect from the lowest cost to highest cost and picking the middle one.

*Median cost can be found by arranging all costs for each specific birth defect from the lowest cost to highest cost and picking the middle one.

Heart Defects: CDC’s Activities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works to identify causes of CHDs and ways to prevent them. We do this through:

  1. Surveillance or disease tracking:
    1. CDC funds and coordinates the Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program (MACDP).  CDC also funds population-based state tracking programs. Birth defects tracking systems are vital to help us find out where and when birth defects occur and whom they affect.
    2. CDC funds projects to track CHDs across the lifespan in order to learn about health issues and needs among all age groups.
    3. CDC, in partnership with March of Dimes, surveys adults with CHDs to assess their health, social and educational status, and quality of life. The survey is called CH STRONGexternal icon, Congenital Heart Survey To Recognize Outcomes, Needs, and well-beinG.
  2. Research: CDC funds the Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, which collaborate on large studies such as the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) (births 1997-2011) and the Birth Defects Study To Evaluate Pregnancy exposureS (BD-STEPS) (began with births in 2014). These studies are working to identify factors that put babies at risk for birth defects, including heart defects.
  3. Collaboration:
    1. CDC is assessing states’ needs for help with CCHD screening and reporting of screening results. CDC helps states and hospitals better understand the cost and impact of CCHD screening.   CDC also promotes collaboration between birth defects tracking programs and newborn screening programs to improve understanding of the effectiveness of CCHD screening.
    2. CDC provides technical assistance to the Congenital Heart Public Health Consortiumexternal icon (CHPHC). The CHPHC is a group of organizations uniting resources and efforts in public health activities to prevent congenital heart defects and improve outcomes for affected children and adults. Their website provides resources for families and providers on CHDs.

More Information

More information about birth defects

More information about birth defects research and tracking

Key Findings Reference

Arth AC, Tinker SC, Simeone RM, Ailes EC, Cragan JD, Grosse SD. Inpatient Hospitalization Costs Associated with Birth Defects Among Persons of All Ages — United States, 2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:41–46.