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Birth Defects

Environments

A black and white shot of an infant's handBirth defects are estimated to affect more than 120,000 children in the United States every year. About 3% of babies, or 1 of every 33, are born with a structural birth defect. Birth defects are one of the leading causes of infant deaths.

Babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long-term disability than babies without birth defects. Babies with birth defects are also more likely to be born preterm, or before the 37th week of pregnancy, than babies without birth defects. Birth defects account for 12% of all hospital stays by children.

Most birth defects likely happen for many reasons, not just one reason. When a woman comes into contact with an environmental hazard early in her pregnancy, it may increase the risk of her baby being born with a birth defect. More research is needed to study the links between environmental hazards and birth defects, which is why birth defects are part of the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

 

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