General Information about Birth Defects - CYSHN

General Information about Birth Defects

Learn more about birth defects facts, prevention, causes and risk factors, diagnosis, specific birth defects and living with a birth defect, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Facts about Birth Defects website.

Birth Defects Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Birth Defects Program at CDC exists to provide leadership and support for birth defects monitoring, analysis of birth defects data, research into causes, treatment and prevention of birth defects, education about birth defects and birth defects prevention.

March of Dimes: Working together for stronger, healthier babies
This website contains information and answers about pregnancy, your baby, folic acid, prematurity, genetic disorders, birth defects and much more. The Minnesota Chapter works to improve the health of babies and support families in Minnesota.

Preconception Health

CDC Preconception Health and Health Care
Preconception health and health care focuses on taking steps now to protect the health of a baby in the future. However, preconception health is important for all women and men, whether or not they plan to have a baby one day.

CDC Folic Acid Website
Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby's brain and spine. Women need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

CDC Guidance for Preventing Birth Defects
Not all birth defects can be prevented. But a woman can increase her own chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. This is important because many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Maternal Exposure Fact Sheets from MotherToBaby
This site offers a series of fact sheets on "teratogens" - exposures that are known to interfere with fetal development. The fact sheets are developed by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) and answer frequently asked questions about exposures during pregnancy.

Family Health History

Knowing about diseases, conditions, and other health-related things that run in your family is very important - we call it your family health history. Collecting a family health history is a simple way of documenting health conditions that tend to run in families. Although it often is used to identify conditions that are hereditary, it also can be used to collect other familial features that impact health such as common behaviors and habits. Family history may be collected in many ways. Below are links to some resources to help you collect and interpret your family health history.

  • CDC Family History Resources
    CDC Family History Resources: The following inventory is a compilation of family history tools. The list is not exhaustive but includes tools that were developed for the general public and are accessible through the Internet. New tools will be added as they become available.

  • Genetic Alliance Family Health History
    Genetic Alliance Family Health History: Family health history is the story of diseases that run in your family. It is one part of the entire history of your family. Along with culture, values, environment, and behaviors, family health history influences the way you live your life. Learning about your family health history can help you make healthy choices: it is a cheap, easy way to improve your own health and the health of your family. Share the information you gather with your healthcare provider to further reduce your risk of disease and create a partnership around your health.

  • It Runs In My Family Toolkit
    Using family history to improve your health. This is an early prototype for collecting family history in the form of a pedigree. You just answer the questions about your and your family's health and habits and it will draw your health family tree.

  • How to Share Your Family Health History Nowadays families have so many ways to communicate: photos through text, videos on social media, chatting online, etc. But even with so much connectedness, families can forget to communicate about an important topic: their health histories. With the holidays approaching, it's a wonderful time to begin that conversation. For many of us, this might be uncomfortable. Where do we start? What do we ask?