March 3 is World Birth Defects Day!
People and organizations around the world can participate in World Birth Defects Day 2016 by sharing stories and information about birth defects using the hashtag #WorldBDDay.
Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. Most of us have been touched by someone living with a birth defect—a family member, friend, neighbor.
For the second year, CDC is collaborating with organizations across the world to bring attention to this global public health issue.
Birth defects can affect babies regardless of where they are born, their ethnicities, or their races. In some countries, birth defects remain one of the leading causes of death for infants and young children.1 Every year an estimated 3-6% of infants worldwide are born with a serious birth defect.2,3Those who survive and live with these conditions are at an increased risk for lifelong disabilities.
The goals for World Birth Defects Day 2016 are to raise awareness about birth defects, reduce stigma, and increase opportunities for prevention by promoting the following:
- Increasing the number of birth defects monitoring programs globally
- Improving existing birth defects monitoring programs
- Improving access to care
- Continuing research to identify causes of birth defects, particularly those causes that have the potential to be changed or avoided
CDC's Global Birth Defects Initiative
Birth Defects COUNT (Countries and Organizations United for Neural Tube Defects Prevention) is CDC's global initiative to reduce death and lifelong disability resulting from neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects of the brain and spine. They are a major cause of death and lifelong disability worldwide.3Each year, there are more than 300,000 babies born around the world with a neural tube defect.4 Many neural tube defects can be prevented by adding folic acid, a B vitamin, to foods like bread and rice, a process called folic acid fortification. Since the start of folic acid fortification in the United States in 1998, the number of babies born with neural tube defects has decreased by 35%, which means that more than 1300 U.S. babies are now born each year without a neural tube defect.5 Expanding the reach of global folic acid fortification can help prevent 150,000–210,000 neural tube defects each year.4 On World Birth Defects Day, CDC and its partners seek to build momentum for this initiative, and together work to expand birth defects monitoring and prevention initiatives worldwide.
- World Health Organization. Congenital anomalies. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization [cited 2016 Feb 9].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Update on overall prevalence of major birth defects – Atlanta, Georgia, 1978-2005. MMWR Morb Mort Wkly Rep. 2008;57(01):1-5.
- Christianson A, Howson CP, Modell B. March of Dimes: Global Report on Birth Defects – The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled Children.[5.25 MB] White Plains, NY: March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation; 2006 [ cited 2016 Feb 9].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC grand rounds: additional opportunities to prevent neural tube defects with folic acid fortification. MMWR Morb Mort Wkly Rep. 2010;59(31):980-4.
- Williams J, Mai CT, Mulinare J, Isenberg J, Flood TJ, Ethen M, Frohnert B, Kirby RS. Updated estimates of neural tube defects prevented by mandatory folic acid fortification – United States 1995-2011. MMWR Morb Mort Wkly Rep. 2015;64(1):1-5.