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8 million babies are born with a birth defect globally each year.

March 3rd is World Birth Defects Day. 

Every year, around 8 million children are born with birth defects globally.

At the 2010 63rd World Health Assembly, the UN Member States agreed to promote primary prevention and improve the health of children with congenital anomalies.

WHO estimates that 240,000 newborns and 170,000 children between one month and five years of age die due to birth defects globally. Birth defects also contribute to long-term disabilities.

Birth defects have become a larger proportion of the causes of death in newborns and children, as other causes decline. Nine in ten children with a serious birth defect live in LMICs. The most common are congenital heart disease (CHD), neural tube defects, and Down syndrome.

CHD is globally responsible for a high burden of disease, disability and mortality. In the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, birth defects are the second cause of neonatal mortality, with a burden of disability due to birth defects of 5,417,214 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). In LAC, 1,923,570 DALYs are due to congenital heart disease.

Currently PAHO and USAID’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership are collaborating in a qualitative study to analyze the burden of disease, consolidate information on successful experiences, and develop a framework to address CHD in LAC. The objectives of the study are:

  • To estimate the burden of disease, mortality, and disability associated to congenital heart disease in LAC
  • To map successful experiences in current programs and interventions to address congenital heart defects in LAC countries (screening, diagnosis, referral, treatment, and follow up)
  • To develop a technical brief to provide resources and guidance for the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs aiming to reduce the burden of disease and mortality associated with congenital heart defects in LAC