Among the 18 major birth defects included in this study, cleft lip and/or palate had the highest prevalence, followed by Down Syndrome, according to research that for the first time provides population-based estimates for the prevalence of specific birth defects nationwide.
Among the selected cardiovascular defects studied, more than 6,500 infants were affected, however, this excludes many common types such as ventral septal defects.
The study results, published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), calculated national estimates for 18 specific major birth defects between 1999 and 2001. Previous estimates had indicated that 3 percent of all births are affected by a birth defect. However, this is the first time national population-based estimates for specific defects, other than neural tube defects, have been calculated.
"This study is an important step toward helping us understand the widespread impact that birth defects have on families across the United States," said study co-author Joann Petrini, Ph.D., director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center.
Parents of children with these conditions know how important this research is to their families and to addressing their health care and educational needs.
"No one was excited for us when Ethan was born," said Lori Gunther of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., whose son was born in 2002 with a cleft lip. Well-meaning friends avoided discussion of or dismissed the defect thinking it was "cosmetic" and could be easily fixed. But Ethan had eating problems because the cleft made it difficult for hi