Birth Defects Monitoring and Analysis Program


The Birth Defects Monitoring and Analysis Program at the Minnesota Department of Health gathers data about selected birth defects diagnosed in the first year of life. An estimated 2,000 babies are born in Minnesota each year with a birth defect.

The Birth Defects program supports the mission of the department to protect, maintain, and improve the health of all Minnesotans by helping children thrive, grow, and be as healthy as possible. The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Monitor trends of birth defects to detect emerging health concerns and identify affected populations
  • Assure appropriate services are provided to affected families
  • Prevent birth defects through targeted education
  • Educate physicians and the public regarding birth defects
  • Stimulate research on risk factors, treatment, prevention, and the cure of birth defects

State general funds support program activities, including notification and coordination of services for those infants and families found to have special needs. Legislation passed in 2004 authorized the statewide expansion of birth defects monitoring and analysis activities. As part of this expansion, MDH is partnering with local public health agencies and tribal agencies across MN for birth defects service delivery in the communities where these families live. Despite the fact that 100,000 to 150,000 babies are born each year in the US with major birth defects, many of the actual causes of birth defects are not completely understood. Some types of birth defects are preventable. MDH focuses program activities on the prevention of birth defects.

How does the Birth Defects Monitoring and Analysis Program benefit Minnesota?

There are many programs in our state that may benefit children with birth defects and their families. Knowledge of the occurrence of birth defects will help the Minnesota Department of Health link families to the services they need. Better tracking of when and where birth defects occur provides critical information that may help prevent birth defects in the future. This information will help all children have the best possible start in life.

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