One out of every 33 infants in the United States is born with a birth defect. And although birth defects are less common than other adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight or prematurity, they are still the leading cause of death in the first year of life — responsible for 20% of all infant deaths in the U.S. What’s more, birth defects can result in mental or physical disability, require costly medical care, and often lead to economic, emotional, and social distress for families. Yet despite all this, the causes of most birth defects remain poorly understood.
Here at DPH we’re proud to be joining the national effort to change that. DPH’s Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (MCBDRP) was recently awarded a five-year, $3.5 million CDC grant to join the nationwide Birth Defects Study To Evaluate Pregnancy exposureS (or BD-STEPS). As part of the study, Massachusetts will work collaboratively with the CDC and five other Centers across the country to help identify modifiable maternal exposures in early pregnancy that may increase the risk of birth defects.
In Massachusetts, DPH’s Marlene Anderka will lead a multi-diciplinary project team comprised of researchers from DPH, the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, and the Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. The team will work to identify modifiable risk factors for birth defects, with a particular focus on assessing the effects of medication used to treat infertility as well as other underlying conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, during pregnancy.
Although treatment of underlying conditions is a vitally important component to prenatal care, it is important to identify any treatments that in and of themselves may independently increase risk of birth defects. For example, anti-obesity medications are increasingly entering the market as the obesity epidemic continues, but little is known about their potential fetal hazards when used by pregnant women.
The more that we can understand about what causes birth defects, the more effective we can be in working to reduce them. That’s why we’re honored to work with our state and federal partners in this important national initiative.
For more information about DPH’s Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (MCBDRP), please visit their website.
Super Bowl Picnic! posted on Jan 26
Our much-beloved New England Patriots are contending for the Super Bowl this Sunday! And the big questions are…who will you watch the game with? What will the best commercial be? And, let’s face it—what goodies are we going to eat? Back in the days before …Continue Reading Super Bowl Picnic!
Weekly Flu Report, January 23, 2015 posted on Jan 23
The latest weekly flu report shows an increase in rates of flu-like illness during the past seven days. Flu season is certainly here in New England – but there are some simple, common-sense steps that you can take to keep from getting or spreading the …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, January 23, 2015
Weekly Flu Report, January 16, 2015 posted on Jan 16
The latest weekly flu report shows a slight decline in rates of flu-like illness over the past seven days. But flu is unpredictable, and we know from past years that flu season won’t likely peak in Massachusetts until February or March – so there’s still …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, January 16, 2015