Know the Facts about Birth Defects | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


Know the facts about birth defects and share them with others.

Birth defects have a serious, adverse effect on health, development or functional ability and account for more than one in every five infant deaths. Babies with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long-term disability than babies without birth defects. Many defects can be diagnosed and, in some cases, treated before birth.

Birth Defects Fast Facts

There are thousands of different birth defects. Below are fast facts on a few of the most commonly treated birth defects at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation (CCAM) – A cystic or solid lung tumor. The incidence of CCAM is approximately one in 10,000 pregnancies.

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) – A condition in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest and restrict lung development. It occurs in about one in every 2,500 live births.

Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) – Abnormalities in the heart’s structure. The most common birth defects, affecting approximately 40,000 births in the U.S. each year. Approximately one in every 120 babies is born each year with some type of congenital heart defect.

Conjoined Twins – Two babies born physically connected to each other. The condition occurs once in every 50,000 to 60,000 births.

Gastroschisis – A condition in which the intestine and other abdominal organs protrude through a hole in the abdominal wall and spill out into the amniotic fluid around the fetus. It occurs in approximately one in 5,000 live births.

Lower Urinary Tract Obstructions (LUTO) – Conditions in which there is a partial or complete obstruction of the urethra which restricts or prevents the passage of urine. LUTO occurs in one in 5,000 to 7,000 births, most commonly in male fetuses.

Omphalocele – A defect in which the abdominal organs protrude into the base of the umbilical cord. Occurs in approximately one in every 5,000 to 10,000 births.

Sacrococcygeal Teratoma (SCT) – A tumor located at the base of the tailbone (coccyx) of the newborn. The most common tumor of the newborn, SCT occurs in one of every 35,000 to 40,000 live births, more commonly in females.

Spina Bifida – A birth defect in which an area of the spinal column doesn’t form properly, leaving a section of the spinal cord and spinal nerves exposed through an opening in the back. It occurs in 3.4 per 10,000 live births in the United States and is the most common central nervous system birth defect. Between 1,400 and 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida in the U.S. each year.

Twin Reversed Arterial Perfusion Sequence (TRAP) – A condition in which one twin receives all of its blood supply from the normal or so-called pump twin. It occurs in approximately 1 percent of monochorionic twin pregnancies, with an incidence of one in 35,000 births.

Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) – A condition in which the blood passes unequally between identical twins that share a placenta (monochorionic). It occurs in about 15 percent of monochorionic pregnancies.

Sources: March of Dimes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Fast Facts

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Our Birth Defects Awareness and Advocacy Family Toolkit can be downloaded in a PDF format if you'd like to save or print this information.