Early 1960'sA national epidemic of limb reduction defects associated with women's prenatal use of thalidomide drew attention to birth defects.
1963Massachusetts passed legislation mandating hospitals to report birth defects to MDPH.
1970A trend developed to transport acutely ill infants to non-birthing tertiary care facilities who did not report to MDPH. Birth defects were underreported.
1984The High Risk Infant Identification System (HRIIS) was established. Obstetric nurses in birth hospitals captured data on birth defects. The program was phased out in the early 1990's.
1990'sBirth defects data were collected from administrative review of birth, death, and fetal death certificates from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics and Uniform Hospital Discharge Data. Birth defects were underreported because the documentation was inconsistent.
1995The CDC sponsored a pilot study to analyze the administrative review data. This showed that birth defect reporting on birth certificates was underreported while it was reported more completely and accurately in hospital discharge data.
1996The CDC awarded funding to MDPH to establish the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention in collaboration with Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and the Genetics and Teratology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital.
1997An active surveillance program was initiated. Trained personnel validated reports of birth defects, actively seeking cases in hospitals, nurseries, and neonatal intensive care units. Data were collected in the eastern part of the state.
1998By the end of this year, the Birth Defects Monitoring Program (BDMP) had begun collecting cases from the all birthing hospitals in the state and one major tertiary care hospital.
2001First BDMP Surveillance Report produced containing state-wide data from the population-based, active BDMP.
2002The Massachusetts legislature expanded case ascertainment up to 3 years of age and expanded reporting sources to include physicians, outpatient clinics and genetic services.
PresentlyThe BDMP collects data from 53 birthing hospitals, 1 tertiary care and 1 specialty hospital in Massachusetts, and 1 Rhode Island birth hospital and 1 Rhode Island tertiary care hospital near the MA/RI border. Data sources used to ascertain and verify cases include: birth certificates, fetal and infant death certificates, hospital discharge reports, hospital nurseries and neonatal units, hospital surgical and pathology departments.


This information is provided by the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention within the Department of Public Health.