The Problem of Birth Defects: Who's at Risk



pic_group-6020719Birth defects can happen in any family—no one is immune. Our data show similar rates of birth defects in babies born to mothers of all ages, race/ethnic groups, education levels and from all parts of the state. Often, there is nothing in the family background or events of the pregnancy to predict whose child will have birth defects.


Prenatal care is important for monitoring the health of both mother and baby during pregnancy. Yet, prenatal care has little impact on birth defects—not surprising since major embryonic development occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

Research has begun to discover ways to lower risk for birth defects—for example, by taking multivitamins with folic acid even before conception. However, because most birth defects causes are unknown, there is little fact-based information to guide an expectant mother in protecting her unborn child.