First-Ever World Birth Defects Day is March 3, 2015

More Than 8 Million Babies Worldwide Are Affected By Birth Defects

White Plains, New York | Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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An estimated 8 million babies worldwide are born with a serious birth defect and those who survive may be physically or mentally disabled for life, taking a costly toll on their families, their communities, and their nations.
An international group of 12 organizations working together to address this global problem has created the first-ever World Birth Defects Day to raise awareness of their efforts.

Among them is the March of Dimes, which funds research into the unknown causes of birth defects and seeks new ways to prevent and treat them, supported by its signature event March for Babies.

For example, a March of Dimes-funded researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine is working to develop a new, minimally invasive way to promote bone regeneration to repair limb defects and cleft palate without surgery for the thousands of babies born each year with bone disorders.

Another researcher at the University of Indiana at Bloomington is seeking to develop new and effective drug treatment to prevent birth defects related to infection with toxoplasmosis, which affects 1 in 500 pregnant women and can be passed to their fetuses.

And teams of researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School are studying new approaches to prevent and treat kidney and urinary tract defects, which are among the most common birth defects – affecting more than 1 in 100 babies -- and a leading cause of irreversible kidney failure in children.

Other March of Dimes grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including Fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects. These discoveries paved the way for treatments and preventions for these birth defects.

Known risk factors for birth defects to be avoided during pregnancy include smoking, drinking alcohol, and use of certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. The March of Dimes also recommends that all women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent serious birth defects.

Other partners in World Birth Defects Day are:

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Estudio Colaborativo Latino Americano de Malformaciones Congénitas (ECLAMC)
  • European Dysmelia Reference Information Centre (EDRIC)
  • European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT)
  • International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IFSBH)
  • International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR)
  • Neonatal Alliance - Latin America and Caribbean Newborn Health Alliance
  • National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN)
  • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNHC)
  • WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia

Please join the partners from around the world for the first-ever World Birth Defects BuzzDay on Twitter all day on March 3, using hashtag #WorldBDDay, and help awareness by telling a story about the impact of birth defects on you and your family. You also can participate in the World Birth Defects Day Thunderclap -- register now by going to bit.ly/1CViWVO

The research is supported by companies like Kmart, whose annual fundraising campaigns for the March of Dimes have raised over $125 million, more than any other corporation.

“With Kmart’s support, more women are getting the prenatal care they need, and hundreds of scientists are working to discover the unknown causes of birth defects, premature birth, and infant death,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes largest fundraiser, March for Babies, is scheduled for the last weekend in April in most communities nationwide. To get involved, go to marchforbabies.org.

For more information about World Birth Defects Day, go to icbdsr.org.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.