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Birth Defects Surveillance

The Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program (MACDP) has been collecting, analyzing, and interpreting birth defects surveillance data since 1967. It was created in the aftermath of the thalidomide tragedy to provide early warning of increases in the prevalence of defects at birth. The program monitors all major birth defects in five counties of the metropolitan Atlanta area (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett) with approximately 50,000 annual births from a population of about 2.9 million. An estimated 3.3% of births each year have a major birth defect. It has also provided the capacity to conduct epidemiologic studies to examine etiologic factors contributing to birth defects. MACDP acts as the model for many state-based programs and as a resource for the development of uniform methods and approaches to birth defect surveillance.

A detailed overview of the program was published in Birth Defects Research, Part A, (Correa-Villasenor et al. The Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program: 35 years of birth defects surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birth Defects Res Part A Clin Mol Teratol. 2003 Sep;67(9):617-24). [Click here to view the PDF of article]

U.S. Surveillance.  During 1998, CDC awarded 3-year cooperative agreements to 18 states to address major problems that hinder the surveillance of birth defects and the use of data for prevention and intervention programs.  These problems include variability in the effectiveness of state surveillance programs, lack of effective program support by states, and collected data not being used for planning, prevention, and evaluation.  The states received funding for three categories of activities: to initiate new surveillance programs where none now exist (Maine, Montana, Nevada, and New Hampshire); to support new programs (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah); and to improve existing surveillance programs (Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, New York, and Oklahoma).

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This page was last updated September 08, 2004

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) promotes the health of babies, children, and adults, and enhances the potential for full, productive living.  Our work includes identifying the causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities, helping children to develop and reach their full potential, and promoting health and well-being among people of all ages with disabilities.