Welcome to the State of California 

Birth Defect Information

MO-08-0045 CBDMP


An Overview

A birth defect is a problem that a baby has at birth. In most cases, the baby developed a structural, functional, or developmental abnormality during the mother’s pregnancy.

Out of every 100 babies born in the U.S., two or three will have some kind of major birth defect. Nobody intends to have a child with a birth defect. The causes of birth defects are largely unknown, although several risk factors have been identified.

Birth defects happen when a number of conditions occur together. All of the following may contribute to the risk of birth defects:  mother’s nutritional, physical and mental health before and during pregnancy; mothers, fathers and baby’s genes; environmental exposures; and timing.

Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant. In the U.S., approximately half of pregnancies are unplanned. A woman can help to increase her chances of having a healthy baby. It is important that women of all ages know that setting healthy habits early can lead to a healthy pregnancy months and years later in life.

For more than 20 years, CBDMP has gathered data in several California counties on babies born with structural birth defects evident at birth or within the first year of life. CBDMP continues to collect and analyze data identifying opportunities to prevent birth defects and improve the health of babies.

Last modified on: 8/27/2009 2:46 PM