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Discovering birth defects causes...the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program’s mandate is simple but comprehensive: determine what is and isn’t causing birth defects.
Our multi-faceted approach to finding causes includes:

bullet Tracking rates and trends with our registry, a database of medical and demographic information on over 4.6 million births. Monitoring the “big picture“ identifies high-risk groups and generates clues about possible risk and protective factors.
bullet Responding to public concerns by investigating birth defects clusters or targeting surveillance around sites of environmental concern. With these tools, we can detect “sledgehammers”—very potent birth defects causes.
bullet Conducting research and interview studies to test promising hypotheses. Because most causes are extremely subtle, they must be teased out in these large-scale studies focusing on particular birth defects or environmental exposures. Often, biologic or genetic testing augments interview data.

PLEDGE to protect confidentiality

We honor our moral and legal obligation to protect and keep confidential all information that could potentially identify children or their families. Read about the Program’s extensive protocols to safeguard privacy and confidentiality.

Confidentiality Requirements and Procedures


As new clues about causes emerge, we are committed to sharing results with those who can put them to work—
scientists, medical care providers, public health policy makers and people everywhere hoping to safeguard the health of their unborn children. How do we spread the word?

bullet Articles in medical and scientific journals, including prestigious publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine.
bullet Data for public health workers to accurately plan services and target prevention efforts in their communities.
bullet Study summaries on this website and in print present key findings succinctly for busy health care providers.
bullet Media coverage in newspapers, television, and magazines helps bring timely information to the general public. We work closely with reporters to ensure that stories are accurate and responsibly reported.

This dedication to communication has earned us numerous awards including 2 Gold Awards for Excellence in Public Health Communication from the National Public Health Information Coalition and 2 APEX Awards for Publications Excellence.
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