Birth Defects Tracking Birth Defects Surveillance
Louisiana birth defects monitoring consists of both active and passive surveillance.
Data for 12 types of birth defects are available on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.
Only some states collect birth defects data. Among the states that do, not all of their surveillance systems collect data in the same way; so information is not always easily compared from one state to another. Birth defects surveillance systems can differ in a number of ways:
- Some states have active surveillance, which means a public health or health care professional will seek out birth defects information. For example, the expert will have to go to the hospital to review medical records, hospital charts, and delivery or nursery logs to find records of babies with birth defects
- Some states have passive surveillance, which means the system relies on doctors or hospitals to send reports to the public health department
- Some states, including Louisiana, have a combination of passive and active surveillance, known as passive surveillance with active follow-up.
In both active and passive surveillance methods, scientists can additionally use hospital discharge data or birth certificates to find the information they need.
- Some states are able to include information about birth defects that are diagnosed before the baby is born, even if the pregnancy ended unexpectedly or by choice
- Some babies are born with one birth defect only (isolated). Other babies may be born with more than one defect (multiple).
- Babies that have a birth defect caused by a genetic problem are considered to have a syndrome. Knowing if a baby has only one birth defect or more than one is important because the causes might be different.
Analysis of Birth Defects Data
The comparisons that can be made inside a state include:
- frequency of birth defects by area such as parish
- frequency of birth defects over time
- frequency of birth defects by race or ethnicity and changes in these measures over time
Read more about the birth defects prevalence indicator »
Birth Defects Indicators Available on the Tracking Network
Click on one of the following 12 types of birth defects to learn more about each:
Anencephaly is a birth defect that affects the closing of the neural tube during pregnancy. The neural tube is a narrow channel that folds and closes during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy to form the brain and spinal cord. Anencephaly occurs when the portion of the neural tube that forms the brain does not close. This results in the baby lacking parts of the brain, skull, and scalp. Learn more about anencephaly »
Cleft Lip with or without Cleft Palate
A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip. The opening in the lip can be a small slit in the lip or a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, called the palate. A cleft palate can occur when the two sides of the palate do not come together correctly. Learn more about Cleft Lip »
Cleft Palate without Cleft Lip
A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, called the palate. A cleft palate can occur when the two sides of the palate do not come together correctly. Learn more about Cleft Palate »
Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21)
Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are small "packages" of genes in the body. They determine how a baby's body forms during pregnancy and how, as the baby grows in the womb and after birth, the baby's body functions. Normally, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes. Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes. This extra copy changes the body's and brain's normal development and causes developmental and physical problems for the baby. Learn more about Down Syndrome »
Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which a portion of an infant's intestines protrude out of the body through a small hole in the body wall beside the umbilical cord. The body wall defect can be small or large and other organs such as the liver can be involved. Learn more about Gastroschisis »
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a heart condition that is present at birth, and often is called a congenital heart defect. It is a group of related defects that, together, mean that the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. Learn more about Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome »
Hypospadias are a birth defect among boys in which the opening of the urethra is located somewhere along the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This defect occurs when the urethra does not complete its development during the pregnancy. Learn more about Hypospadias »
Lower Limb Deficiencies
Lower limb reduction defects occur when a part of or the entire leg (lower limb) of a fetus fails to form completely during pregnancy. The defect is referred to as a "limb reduction" because a limb is reduced from its normal size or is missing. Learn more about Lower Limb Deficiencies »
Spina Bifida (without Anencephaly)
Spina Bifida is the most common birth defect in the United States. It is a type of neural tube defect. The neural tube is a narrow channel that folds and closes during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy to form the brain and spinal cord. Spina bifida happens if the portion of the neural tube that forms the spinal cord does not close completely during the first month of pregnancy. Learn more about Spina Bifida (without Anencephaly) »
Tetralogy of Fallot
This is a heart condition that is present at birth, and often is called a congenital heart defect. This defect changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. Tetralogy of Fallot is a combination of four defects: (1) a hole in the wall between the ventricles (two lower chambers of the heart), called a ventricular septal defect; (2) narrowing of the tube that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, called pulmonary stenosis; (3) the aorta (the tube that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) grows from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only; and (4) a thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle, called right ventricular hypertrophy. Learn more about Tetralogy of Fallot »
Transposition of the Great Arteries (Vessels)
This is a heart condition that is present at birth, and often is called a congenital heart defect. Transposition of the great arteries occurs when the two main arteries going out of the heart—the pulmonary artery and the aorta—are switched in position, or "transposed".
Upper Limb Deficiencies
Upper limb reduction defects occur when a part of or the entire arm (upper limb) of a fetus fails to form completely during pregnancy. The defect is referred to as a "limb reduction" because a limb is reduced from its normal size or is missing. Learn more about Upper Limb Deficiencies »