Birth defects are common, occurring in 1 of every 33 babies born every year in the United States. Depending on the severity of the defect, the expected lifespan of a person with a birth defect can be greatly reduced. Additionally, birth defects are a leading cause of pediatric hospitalizations and medical expenditures. It is estimated that 2.6 billion US dollars are spent annually in caring for infants, children, and adults living with a birth defect.
CDC and its partners are working together to identify both genetic and environmental risk factors that may contribute to the development of birth defects. Folic acid fortification has been a major success in the prevention of some types of birth defects and there is ongoing research on the impact of interventions that target obesity, smoking, and diabetes. However, there is still much that can be done to understand and prevent birth defects.