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N.D. Birth Defects Monitoring System releases report

January 26, 2004

BISMARCK, N.D.- Of the 7,800 babies born in North Dakota each year, about 150 have serious birth defects. State officials have just released a report detailing the incidence of birth defects in the state from 1995 to 1999. According to state health officials, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect monitored in North Dakota. Nationwide, birth defects remain the leading cause of infant deaths.

"Some birth defects are preventable and good prenatal care is important," said State Health Officer, Terry Dwelle, M.D. "Women of child bearing age should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. This reduces the risk of having a baby with spina bifida, and possibly other birth defects including cleft lip or palate and heart defects."

Dwelle also said women should be properly immunized and should not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs during pregnancy.

Prepared by the North Dakota Birth Defects Monitoring System, the newly published 1995-1999 Summary Report is available at www.nd.gov/dhs/info/pubs/docs/birth-defects-report.pdf). State monitoring efforts involve the North Dakota Department of Health, the North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS), the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine.

These partnering entities have different areas of expertise. For information about birth defects and the benefits of folic acid, contact the March of Dimes. The Division of Medical Genetics at UND provides specialized services to individuals affected by birth defects and their families. In addition, children with chronic health conditions and their families may benefit from treatment, multidisciplinary clinics, and other services provided by the Children's Special Health Services Unit of the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

To highlight the fact that birth defects are the leading cause of infant death and disability in North Dakota, Gov. John Hoeven proclaimed January as Birth Defects Prevention Month. (See Proclamation)


Contact Terry Bohn, N.D. Department of Human Services, Children's Special Health Services Unit, at (701) 328-4963 for information about state monitoring efforts.


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