SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Program Expansion

Infant Death

Congenital Anomalies

Congenital Anomalies

The more familiar term for congenital anomalies is birth defects. For more than 20 years, birth defects have been the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. In 2000, birth defects accounted for 5,743 deaths of infants younger than 1 year old, reflecting a rate of infant mortality due to birth defects of 139.2 per 100,000 live births. The cause of about 70 percent of all birth defects is unknown. Common concerns for birth defects are exposure to environment pollution, various occupational hazards, dietary factors and medications.13

In early 1998, Congress passed the Birth Defects Prevention Act of 1998, which became Public Law 105-168. This bill authorized the CDC to:

  • Collect, analyze and make available data on birth defects.
  • Operate regional centers for applied epidemiologic research on the prevention of birth defects.
  • Inform and educate the public about the prevention of birth defects.

The CDC also monitors birth defects through State birth defects prevention activities. The CDC continues to fund and conduct research into birth defects.