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Birth Defects

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Alabama Birth Defects Reporting Now Required - Effective April 14, 2024

Alabama implemented birth defect reporting for the prevention and early detection of certain congenital disorders. Birth defect reporting is required within 30 days of diagnosis or associated laboratory tests. Each healthcare facility, healthcare provider, or physician who diagnoses the birth defect must report.

Reportable birth defects include the following:

What Are Birth Defects?

According to the March of Dimes, birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect parts of the body. Birth defects may affect how the body develops and/or functions. They may range from mild to serious health conditions and can happen at any time during pregnancy.

About 1 in 33 babies (about 3 percent) is born with a birth defect in the United States each year. Some birth defects do not require treatment and can be treated easily, but other birth defects may require timely treatment and intervention because they cause serious problems or even death.

What Causes Birth Defects?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most birth defects may not have a cause. Other birth defects are caused by a complex mix of factors. These factors include genes (information inherited from parents), behaviors, and environmental elements.

In addition, there are factors that may increase the chances of having a baby with a birth defect including the following:

  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking certain drugs during pregnancy
  • Medical conditions (e.g., obesity, uncontrolled diabetes)
  • Medications (e.g., isotretinoin)
  • Family history
  • Infections (e.g., cytomegalovirus, Zika virus)
  • Chromosomal abnormalities


Birth Defects Prevention

Not all birth defects can be prevented, but there are things that expectant mothers can do before and during pregnancy to increase the chance of having a healthy baby:

  • See a healthcare professional regularly
  • Get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant
  • Avoid harmful substances including alcohol and smoking
  • Prevent infections during pregnancy
  • Avoid overheating and treat fever promptly


Page last updated: May 20, 2024