Know the Facts About Birth Defects

Pregnant Mom with Dad Hands on Belly 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

  • The largest, most comprehensive fetal diagnosis and treatment center in the world.
  • The only fetal center offering comprehensive care in one location, from prenatal diagnosis through delivery and postnatal care.
  • One of only a few centers in the world to offer open fetal surgery for life-threatening conditions.
  • Since 1995, our Center has cared for more than 32,015 expectant parents from all 50 states and more than 70 countries.
  • Led by a multidisciplinary team of pioneers in fetal diagnosis, fetal surgery and fetal medicine who constantly work to refine and advance the techniques used to treat fetal conditions.
  • Our specialized Fetal Heart Program diagnoses fetal heart defects early in pregnancy and coordinates care. After birth, babies are treated in the Hospital’s Cardiac Center, one of the world’s top pediatric heart programs.
  • Home to the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), the world’s first birth unit for women carrying babies with diagnosed birth defects, keeping mother and child in the same space after birth. More than 6,373 babies with the full range of fetal diagnoses have been delivered in the SDU since it opened in 2008.
  • Babies who require care after birth receive advanced care in CHOP’s Harriet and Ronald Lassin Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit, consistently ranked among the best in the nation for newborn care.

Screenshot of CFDT tour video

Tour our Fetal Center

Watch this video tour to learn what to expect at your first visit to the Wood Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Pregnant Mom and Child

What to Expect

From the moment of referral through delivery and postnatal care, your family can expect a supportive experience when you come to us with a diagnosis of a birth defect.