What are Birth Defects?

Birth defects, or congenital anomalies, are conditions that cause structural or functional abnormalities present at birth that can be identified at different stages of infancy. A specific birth defect may be caused by one or more of the following: genetics, environmental exposures, infections, maternal nutrition, or other risk factors.
  • Structural anomalies:
    • Abnormalities in the development of body parts.
      • Ex: congenital heart defects, spina bifida, cleft lip or palate, limb deficiency, hypospadias, club foot, Down syndrome, congenital rubella syndrome, congenital Zika syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Functional anomalies:
    • Abnormalities in how a body system works.
      • Ex: metabolic diseases, hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, thalassemia, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, deafness, autism, ADHD.

For more information about specific birth defects, including causes, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatments, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/types.html