search for information spacer
search birth defects
search environmental factors
search geographic areas
birth defects the solution is research discoveries and data serving the public visitor type
home page

discoveries and data center
all birth defects
specific conditions
exposures and risk factors
geographic data

take our survey

Look up in our Glossary

birth defects
chromosome abnormalities
Down syndrome
heart defects
limb defects
mental retardation
metabolic disease
structural birth defects


all birth defects combined

All birth defects combined include the following conditions:

Structural and anatomic defects, such as missing limbs and malformed hearts

Birth defects patterns or syndromes

Chromosome abnormalities.

This figure does not include children with:

Metabolic or genetic diseases (cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia)

Functional problems without obvious structural elements (mental retardation, deafness)

Poor pregnancy outcome (low birthweight).


Mother's age . Women in their 20s and early 30s, who produce 73% of all births, have the lowest risk. We see slightly higher risks for mothers under 20 and much higher risks for women greater than 40. In older women, chromosome defects such as Down syndrome account for much of the difference.

Mother's race/ethnicity . All racial/ethnic groups show overall birth defects rates around 2%-3%. Differences reflect slight variation in many conditions rather than very high or low rates for a few specific defects.

Mother's birthplace. During the period monitored, 42% of births were to foreign-born mothers, including 87.5% of all Asian births and 59.5% of Latinos. Among Asians rates of birth defects vary significantly depending on birth place. Among African Americans rates vary but are not statistically significant.

Mother's education: Education level is a surrogate social class in California. There is little variation in birth defect rates by education level

birth defects by age graph

birth defects by race graph

birth defects by birthplace graph

contact information