January is Birth Defects Awareness Month

by | Jan 16, 2024 | Blog, News

The month of January is recognized as Birth Defect Awareness Month. As stated by National Birth Defects Prevention Network the goals of Birth Defects Awareness Month are to:

  • Promote healthy pregnancies,
  • Highlight ways to reduce the risk of birth defects,
  • Share resources/support services available within communities across the nation, and
  • Advocate for health of children and families living with birth defects across the lifespan

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network fully acknowledges that not all birth defects can be prevented, however the risk of certain birth defects can be lowered. We also want to add that people who have disabilities due to birth defects are able to live happy, full lives, and that some of the most commonly shared challenges for people with disabilities are structural issues and social stigma – not their physical conditions.

According to March of Dimes, “birth defects are physical or biochemical changes that are present at birth. They can affect almost any part of the body. They can cause problems with how the body develops or how the body works. These changes can be mild or serious.” Many factors can increase the risk of a birth defect developing, including age at pregnancy, environment, chromosomal changes, substance use during pregnancy, and getting certain infections during pregnancy.

Approximately 3% of babies in the U.S. is born with a birth defect each year and birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality. The CDC reports that infant deaths due to birth defects were 34% higher for Black babies than white babies. Research suggests that social determinants of health, such as access to health care and pollutant exposure, as well as bias from medical providers, are contributing factors to this disparity.

This month, please join us in raise awareness about the racial disparities in infant mortality due to birth defects. Ensuring that Black pregnant and parenting families have access to health insurance, culturally congruent health care providers, transportation to and from prenatal and pediatric appointments, and a healthy environment can help reduce the risk a child developing or losing their life to a birth defect. We can also advocate better care and support systems for families who already have a child with a birth defect.

To learn more, please visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network’s website.


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