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Birth Defects Estimate for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County

A new surveillance system to track and report birth defects in Ohio began in 2004, part of a national effort. Before this system releases information, we estimate the number of children born with significant birth defects using rate estimates from the Ohio Department of Health

While the cost of birth defects can be measured through the amount of funds used to support govenrment programs and medical care, the numbers of children born annually with birth defects are difficult to measure.

Birth defects are a major cause of infant mortality and morbidity (illness).

Few congenital anomalies, even those that are present and recognized at birth, are noted on birth certificates. Birth certificates must be registered with the local, county or district vitals office within 48 hours after the birth of the baby. Those defects that jeopardize the life of the child, often those related to the heart and circulatory system, or those associated with spina bifida, cranial anomalies or limb disfiguration, can be diagnosed quickly.

However for most defects, clinical recognition of a birth defect may not occur until days, months or even years after the birth of the child. The birth certificate has already been filed with the state offices. Those state records are used by health departments to determine the number of live births, but the unreliable estimate of birth defects forces public health officials to ignore the number of birth defects reported in birth certificates. This problem has been recognized nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2004, the State of Ohio with help from the March of Dimes established an effort to begin surveillance of birth defects in Ohio. A press release with the announcement can be found here.

According to national estimates, three to six percent of children are born annually with signficant birth defects that have a major impact of life.

Based on this rate and the number of live births in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, we can estimate the number of children born with signficant birth defects.

For example, there were 21,169 and 54,458 babies born in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, respectively, for the 2000-2002 period. Thus, we can estimate that there were between 635 and 1,270 babies born in these three years in Cleveland that have a significant birth defect. We can estimate that there were between 1,634 and 3,268 babies born in these three years in Cuyahoga County that have a significant birth defect.

More information on birth defects can be found at the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Diseases of the CDC.

Information on monitoring and preventing birth defects can be found at this CDC site.

Posted by db last modified October 21, 2007

Keywords: Birth Defects, County, Infant Mortality, Maternal Infant and Child Health, Municipal, State, Statistics

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