Every year, millions of babies around the world are born with a serious birth defect. In many countries, birth defects are one of the leading causes of death in babies and young children. Babies who survive and live with these conditions are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities and other health problems.
What are birth defects?
Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They may change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or how the body works.
There are thousands of different birth defects. The most common are heart defects, cleft lip and palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida. Our website has a list of common birth defects as well as examples of rare birth defects.
We don’t know all the reasons why birth defects occur. Some may be caused by the genes you inherit from your parents. Others may be caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to harmful chemicals. Some may be due to a combination of genes and environment. In most cases, the causes are unknown.
The goal of World Birth Defects Day is to expand birth defects surveillance, prevention, care, and research worldwide. Naturally, the goal is to raise awareness, too.
You can help.
- Lend your voice! Register with your social media account and Thunderclap will post a one-time message on March 3rd. The message will say “Birth defects affect 3-6% of infants worldwide. It’s a major cause of death/disability. Lend your voice!”
- Join the Buzzday on Twitter, March 3, 2017 by using the hashtag #WorldBDDay.
With your help, we’ll raise awareness, which is the first step in improving the health of all babies.
What we’re doing
The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Our research grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects. These discoveries may one day lead to interventions so that some birth defects can be prevented.
We answer health questions from the public through AskUs@marchofdimes.org, and promote messaging on our Twitter handles, @modhealthtalk, @nacersano (in Spanish) and @marchofdimes.
We welcome your comments and questions.