Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of all infant deaths.* Of about 120,000 babies born in the U.S. each year with a birth defect, 8,000 die during their first year of life.* In addition, birth defects are the fifth-leading cause of years of potential life lost and contribute substantially to childhood morbidity and long-term disability.
The causes of about 70 percent of all birth defects are unknown.* There continues to be debate about whether environmental pollutants cause birth defects, developmental disabilities or other adverse reproductive outcomes. There also are many questions about whether various occupational hazards, dietary factors, medications and personal behaviors cause or contribute to birth defects.
Although one in 33 babies in the U.S. has a birth defect,* there are many different types of birth defects, and each individual defect is rare. For example, spina bifida affects about one of every 4,000 babies,* and holoprosencephaly affects about one of every 10,000 to 20,000 babies.** It is necessary to study each defect separately to learn more about the causes of birth defects because different factors may cause each type of defect.
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
**Dugourg C.; Bendavid, C.; Pasquier, L.; et al. Holoprosencephaly. Orphanet J Rare Dis. Feb. 2, 2007; 2:8
Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Center
Birth Defects Research
National Birth Defects Prevention Network
NationalCenter on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Birth Disorder Information Directory
Max Brewer was diagnosed with a mild form of autism when he was 3. His older brother, Arthur, also has autism and completed the Marcus Autism Center Early Intervention Program. “We had seen such great progress with Arthur, so we knew that we needed to start Max in the program, too,” Max’s mother, Therese, said.
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