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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.
Established in 1996, the Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC), and Brigham and Women's Hospital Active Malformations Surveillance Program (BWH). The Center is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Center for Excellence in Birth Defects Research.
Slone Epidemiology Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital bring to the Massachusetts Center more than 20 years of combined experience in birth defects research. The Massachusetts Center draws on the experience of and fosters communication among the region's strong network of clinicians and researchers. The Center's areas of expertise include:
The MCBDRP is a member of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network and collaborates with other states in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and the Birth Defects Study To Evaluate Pregnancy exposureS. These national studies are the largest effort in the U.S. to collect risk factor information about birth defects.