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Birth Defects

About 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect in the United States. Most birth defects occur in the first three months of pregnancy. This is an important time when tissues are forming in the womb. Birth defects range in severity, and the earlier some birth defects are found, the better chance a baby has of living a long and healthy life.

Birth defects are the second leading cause of infant deaths in Indiana. Approximately 2,500 Indiana babies are born with birth defects each year. Reducing Indiana’s infant mortality rate is a top priority for IDOH and Governor Holcomb, who has set a goal of having the lowest infant mortality rate in the Midwest by 2024. Congenital malformations, such as cardiovascular, chromosomal, central nervous system and musculoskeletal defects, contributed to about one in five infant deaths in Indiana in 2018.

Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body (e.g., heart, brain, foot). They may affect how the body looks, works, or both. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe. The well-being of each child affected with a birth defect depends mostly on which organ or body part is involved and how much it is affected. Depending on the severity of the defect and what body part is affected, the expected lifespan of a person with a birth defect may or may not be affected.