What is a Birth Defect?
A birth defect is an abnormality that is present at birth, such as a missing limb, malformed heart, or Down syndrome. Birth defects occur in about 3% of births--more than 122,000 babies in the United States every year. Women of all ages, races/ethnicities, education, and income levels are at risk for having a baby with a birth defect. The causes of most birth defects are unknown but through research and surveillance, causes may be identified and prevention measures developed.
Birth Defects in Texas
As of 2009, over 19,000 Texas babies are born each year with one or more major structural malformations or chromosomal anomalies. For every 10,000 live births, about six births are affected by neural tube defects; 11 babies are born with cleft lip, and 13 are born with Down syndrome. Approximately 28.9% of all babies born from 1999-2008 with birth defects have more than one major birth defect. Certain birth defects exhibit higher rates in some racial/ethnic groups than others.
>>For more data on birth defects in Texas, see the annual report
Mortality of Babies with Birth Defects
Birth defects are also the leading cause of death among infants in Texas. From 1999-2008, 5.3% of all live born babies delivered with a birth defect died; most died before their first birthday (4.6%) and 29% of all deaths to live born babies before their first birthday occurred among babies with a birth defect.
>>Learn more about birth defects mortality
Cost of Birth Defects
In 2010, birth defects resulted in nearly 42,000 hospitalizations among infants in Texas, with total charges over $2.2 billion, based on hospital discharge data. The average length of stay was 6.2 days and the average cost was $53,000 per hospitalization. While the average cost per hospitalization is comparable to national data, due to the large population of Texas relative to other states, total cost of hospitalization for infants with birth defects is high.
Causes of Birth Defects
Two-thirds of birth defects are caused by as yet unknown factors. Texas has unique concerns about some of the potential causes of birth defects such as those concerning environmental pollutants (hazardous waste sites, air pollution, drinking water contaminants), health disparities (income, ethnicity), and maternal factors (diabetes, obesity).
>>Learn more about preventing birth defects