Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Birth Defect News

Worldwide, at least 7.9 million people are born each year with a birth defect. Of the children affected by birth defects, at least 3.3 million die each year before age 5, and about 3.2 million of surviving children could be mentally or physically disabled for life. Currently the causes of only about 30% of birth defects are even somewhat well understood.
—Global Report on Birth Defects: The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled Children

Birth Defect Research for Children's Executive Director, Betty Mekdeci, was interviewed for an article on Environmental Factors in Birth Defects published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. According to the article, "Mekdeci and her colleagues have developed an alternative method of tracking birth defect incidence based on parent responses to a lengthy questionnaire. About 6,000 completed questionnaires have been collected since 1990. Mekdeci and her staff analyze the questionnaire responses for patterns, and she reports they have identified about half a dozen clusters so far. Although the group readily acknowledges these are self-reports from a self-selected population, some of the clusters have later been confirmed by various government agencies. For instance, in Dickson, Tennessee, they detected a cleft palate cluster that was confirmed by the CDC. The group sees its role as identifying birth defect cases and then encouraging health agencies to investigate."

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