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Birth Defects

If you have concerns about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please contact the Utah Pregnancy Risk Line (also known as MotherToBaby Utah)
The CDC describes major birth defects as "structural changes in one or more parts of the body...[that] are present at birth...[and] can have a serious, adverse effect on the health, development, or functional ability of the baby." To learn more about specific birth defects, visit the CDC Birth Defects website.
Birth defects are tracked for the following reasons:
  • 81.5% of birth defect cases in Utah from 1999-2003 have no known cause
  • 1 in 4 infant deaths in Utah is attributable to birth defects
  • 1 in 50 births in Utah is affected by a birth defect tracked by the Utah Birth Defects Network (UBDN)

Tracking and studying birth defects in Utah provides the information needed to monitor the burden of disease locally and statewide, to assess services, to allocate resources for optimal care, and to evaluate prevention efforts. Also, Utah has the highest birth rate in the nation, which makes this an important part of our state's public health to monitor.
Major birth defects are associated with many adverse outcomes, from pregnancy through adult life. The most crucial time to avoid birth defects is during the first three months of pregnancy; this is time when the baby's organs are first developing. However, birth defects can begin to develop after this time period too. Pregnancies affected by birth defects are more likely to end in stillbirth. Even after birth, newborns and children have an increased risk of premature death, chronic illness, or long-term disability. In the United States and over developed countries, birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality. They are also a major contributor to pediatric hospitalizations, chronic childhood illness, and development disabilities.
Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant face a higher risk of having a baby with a birth defect if they:
  • Use illicit drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, or heroin
  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol (in any amount)
  • Have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease
Also, studies have shown that women over the age of 35 are more likely to have a child born with Down Syndrome. It is important for women to assess their health and speak with their healthcare provider before becoming pregnant.
Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant can take the following preventive measures to reduce the risk of her child having birth defects. According to the CDC, the following preventive measures reduce the risk of birth defects:
  • Prenatal Vitamins: Start taking a prenantal vitamin with 400mcg of folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant. Studies have shown that taking folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of birth defects in the developing fetus.
  • Substance Use: Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs during your pregnancy.
  • Medication: Talk with your healthcare provider about what prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and dietary and herbal supplements are okay to use during your pregnancy.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like diabetes and obesity increase the risk of birth defects. Talk with your doctor about your specific medical conditions and how to prepare for pregnancy.
  • Infection Prevention: Infections can cause development abnormalities or other concerns during pregnancy. Some ways to avoid infections are regular handwashing, properly cooking meats, not consuming raw milk products, avoiding wild animals and animal droppings, staying away from other people who have infections, and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). See the CDC's webpage for preventing infections in pregnancy for more information.

Resources


Program Websites

  • Utah Birth Defect Network - Home Page
  • Utah Pregnancy Risk Line (MotherToBaby Utah) - Home Page

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

  • Prevalence of Cleft Lip with Cleft Palate, per 10,000 live births: Statewide and by County

Additional Data Views

  • Prevalence of Cleft Lip without Cleft Palate, per 10,000 live births: Statewide and by County

Additional Data Views

  • Prevalence of Cleft Palate without Cleft Lip, per 10,000 live births: Statewide and by County

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

  • Prevalence of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, per 10,000 Live Births: Statewide and by County

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

Additional Data Views

  • Prevalence of Transposition of the Great Arteries, per 10,000 live births: Statewide and by County

Additional Data Views

Birth Defects Data Query - Prevalence Statewide


Birth Defects Data Query - Prevalence by County


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The UEPHTN receives tracking data regarding birth defects from the Utah Birth Defects Network (UBDN.) The UBDN tracks birth defects data the following ways:
  • Reports from hospitals, labs, clinics and birthing facilities
  • Medical records abstraction
  • Data analysis

Utah administrative rule R398-5 gives the UBDN legal authority to collect information about children born in Utah with birth defects. Under this rule, all hospitals and birthing centers located in Utah are required to report a specific set of information to the UBDN any time a baby is born with a birth defect. Once the UBDN receives a report of a birth defect, a UBDN staff member goes out to the reporting facility and collects information from the medical records of the infant and the mother. The collected information is then entered into a secure database. Analysis is then performed by an epidemiologist to identify rates, trends, risk factors, and causes. The UBDN takes great care to insure the confidentiality and security of all information that is collected. All identifying information is removed from the data before analysis.

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site (http://epht.health.utah.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Fri, 18 August 2017 10:12:01 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://epht.health.utah.gov ".

Content updated: Thu, 5 Jan 2017 13:56:01 MST