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Research

Birth Defects Monitoring Program

The North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program (NCBDMP) actively participates in research that supports our mission to provide complete, timely and accurate data on birth defects in North Carolina, and to collaborate with other organizations to produce high quality research that will inform local, state and national birth defect prevention efforts. Information about birth defects in North Carolina is used for various public health and research activities, including:

  • Performing routine statistical monitoring
  • Informing public health prevention planning
  • Informing public health program evaluation
  • Providing information for health education and public awareness
  • Supporting patient advocacy
  • Supporting service delivery and referral
  • Providing grant proposal support
  • Conducting space/time cluster investigations
  • Conducting and collaborating on epidemiologic investigations and analyses
  • Identifying participants for research studies
  • Establishing baseline rates for various defects
  • Calculating stratified rates by demographic factors
  • Evaluating time trends and geographic patterns
  • Conducting observed vs. expected analyses

Spotlight on Collaborative Research

The NCBDMP is  actively involved within the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), a non-profit organization that (1) maintains a network of local, state and national population-based programs for birth defects surveillance and research to assess the impact of birth defects upon children, families and health care; (2) identifies factors that can be used to develop primary prevention strategies; and (3) assists families and their providers in secondary disabilities prevention.  For more information, visit the NBDPN External link website.

N.C. Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention

In 2002, North Carolina was designated as a Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The N.C. Center is a joint effort of the North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program and the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill. The Center's mission is to conduct epidemiologic research into the causes of birth defects, and to promote the use of research findings to enhance public health education and prevention efforts in order to improve the health of North Carolina children. The N.C. Center brings together experts in the areas of epidemiology, nutrition, surveillance, biostatistics, teratology and medical genetics.

The primary roles of the N.C. Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention are to (1) participate in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study External link (NBDPS); (2) conduct center-specific research projects; and (3) enhance the state’s birth defects research and prevention capacity. The NBDPS is the largest population-based study ever conducted on the causes of birth defects. As part of the study, participants (women who have had babies with and without birth defects) are interviewed about their pregnancy and medical history, work and environmental exposures, lifestyle, diet and medication use. Cheek cells are also collected from the baby and parents to help identify genetic factors that may be related to birth defects. Since the study began in 1997, many findings about more than 30 different types of birth defects have been published in science and health journals. This valuable study helps us understand what causes birth defects, who is affected by birth defects and how birth defects can be prevented in the future.

The N.C. Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention began collecting data for a new project in 2014 entitled Birth Defects Study to Evaluate Pregnancy Exposures (BD-STEPS). BD-STEPS builds upon the foundation of birth defects research from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS). This new study further examines findings from the NBDPS and follows up on leads to understand more about what causes birth defects and how to prevent them. For more information about BD-STEPS, visit this site. External link

The N.C. Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention also conducts research to:

  • Examine geographic and demographic patterns of birth defects
  • Identify potential risk factors for birth defects
  • Investigate whether specific types of occupations are related to birth defects
  • Investigate whether environmental exposures, like air pollution, are related to birth defects
  • Investigate the impact of diet and nutrition on the risk of birth defects
  • Explore how genetics and environmental exposures might interact to increase the risk of birth defects
  • Evaluate the effect of folic acid education programs on the occurrence of neural tube defects
  • Improve access to services for children with birth defects and their families.

For more information about the North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, please contact Alison Woomert, NC-CBDRP Project Director, or click here. External link For more information about the Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, click here. External link