About Tennessee Birth Defects Surveillance System

What is a Birth Defect?

Birth defects (also known as congenital anomalies) are changes that can affect almost any part of the body and alter how the body looks and/or functions. Birth defects are identified before birth, at birth, or after birth. Not all birth defects are the same; some are very mild while others are severe. One’s life expectancy may vary depending on the severity of the birth defect and affected body part(s). Possible risks and/or contributing factors of birth defects include genetics, environmental pollutants, occupational hazards, diet, medications, and modifiable personal behaviors. Early recognition of and response to birth defects often promotes early intervention and treatment, which may decrease further complications and disability.

How Common are Birth Defects?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nationally, nearly one out of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect.

What does the Tennessee Birth Defects Surveillance System (TNBDSS) do?

A birth defects surveillance and information system is essential for the development of programs and policies that can reduce birth defects and infant mortality. These programs also serve a critical role in connecting families with support services in each community. The Tennessee Department of Health’s Tennessee Birth Defects Surveillance System (TNBDSS), as outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) §68-5-506, is a statewide surveillance program that:

• Identifies children with birth defects

• Provides information on the incidence, prevalence, and trends of birth defects

• Informs partners and the public on birth defects and risk factors

• Provides guidance on prevention efforts

• Provides families of children with birth defects information on available supportive services in Tennessee and when appropriate provides service referrals

For More Program Information:

Email: Birth.Defects@tn.gov