photo of African American doctor examining smiling African American baby

  • Common: Nationally, 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. In Massachusetts, approximately 1,300 birth defects cases are ascertained by the Birth Defects Monitoring Program each year.
  • Costly: The Massachusetts combined lifetime cost for babies born with 12 major structural birth defects was estimated at $141.8 million (2010 dollars). In the U.S. birth defects lead to $2.6 billion per year in hospital costs alone (2004 data).
  • Critical: Birth defects are a leading cause of childhood hospitalization, as well as infant and childhood mortality. Early identification of a child with a birth defect, along with early interventions, can improve the child’s quality of life and may save his or her life.

Through the Birth Defects Monitoring Program, the Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is responsible for the collection of information regarding all prenatally and postnatally diagnosed cases of birth defects in the state. In order to monitor defects, it is essential to know what types of birth defects are occurring, how often they are occurring, and where they are occurring. Through the surveillance program, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is able to estimate the prevalence of birth defects, search for causative factors, address community concerns, provide information and referral to families, plan appropriate interventions and services, and measure the success of screening and prevention efforts.


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