World Birth Defects Day Date in the current year: March 3, 2024

World Birth Defects Day World Birth Defects Day is observed annually on March 3. It was created to raise awareness of the burden and causes of birth defects and related disabilities, and to mobilize resources worldwide to improve birth defect surveillance, research, prevention, and care.

Birth defects, also known as congenital disorders, are abnormal conditions that are present at birth regardless of their cause. They may result in physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, which can range from mild to severe.

Birth defects can be caused by genetic or chromosomal disorders, exposure to certain chemicals or medications during pregnancy, vertically transmitted infections (infections that can be transmitted from the mother to an embryo, fetus, or baby during pregnancy or childbirth), metabolic disorders in the mother (diabetes, thyroid disease), lack of certain nutrients (for example, folate deficiency), ionizing radiation, and some other factors.

Common teratogens (substances that can cause birth defects) include alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs, thalidomide, vitamin A, tetracycline, certain anticonvulsants, chemotherapy drugs, nitrates, high levels of fluoride, and some other chemicals and medications.

There are many different types of birth defects. Some of them are preventable by, for example, taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy or not drinking alcohol, while others cannot be prevented. Some birth defects can be detected by prenatal testing, some are visible at birth, and some aren’t clinically evident in newborns but can be detected by newborn screening. Globally, an estimated 8 million children are born with various birth defects every year, and around 300,000 of them die due to associated complications.

The World Birth Defects Day (WBDD) movement was launched in 2015 thanks to the coordinated efforts of twelve organizations:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (United States)
  • DysNet (then known as European Dysmelia Reference Information Centre)
  • Estudio Colaborativo Latino Americano de Malformaciones Congénitas (Latin American Collaborative Study on Congenital Malformations)
  • European Monitoring of Congenital Anomalies
  • International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research
  • International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus
  • March of Dimes Foundation
  • National Birth Defects Prevention Network (United States)
  • Neonatal Alliance – Latin America and Caribbean Newborn Health Alliance
  • Pan American Health Organization
  • Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health
  • WHO South-East Asia Regional Office

Since then, dozens of organizations, foundations, and institutions around the globe has joined the WBDD movement. As of 2024, the WBDD partners network included 191 organizations: 60 in the Americas, 12 in the African Region, 12 in the Eastern-Mediterranean Region, 60 in the European Region, 39 in the Southeast Asia Region, and 8 in the Western Pacific Region.

How can you join the observance of World Birth Defects Day? There are many ways to get involved. You can learn more about birth defects, their causes and prevention, share the information you’ve learned with others, donate to a charity that helps patients with birth defects and their families or funds research into congenital disorders, attend a WBDD event near you or help organize an awareness event in your community, and spread the word on social media with the hashtags #WorldBirthDefectsDay and #WBDDay.

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World Birth Defects Day, international observances, awareness days, health awareness days, congenital disorders