Disability/Illness Description:

Birth defects are defined as abnormalities of structure, function, or body metabolism that are present at birth. These abnormalities lead to mental or physical disabilities or are fatal. There are more than 4,000 different known birth defects, ranging from minor to serious, and although many can be treated or cured, they’re the leading cause of death in the first year of life.

According to the March of Dimes, about 150,000 babies are born with birth defects each year in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that 3 out of every 100 babies born in the United States have some kind of major birth defect.

Birth defects can be caused by genetic, environmental, or unknown factors.

Related Massachusetts Network of Information Provider Disability Fact Sheets:



Genesis Fund – Founded by Dr. Murray Feingold to bridge the gap between coordinated medical care and typical health insurance coverage.  Programs include the Feingold Center for Children, the Pregnancy Exposure InfoLine, and Therapy and the Performing Arts – Cape Cod
60 Temple Place, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 367-7070
Fax: (617) 367-2265

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation – Through education and intervention, we help moms-to-be learn how to take care of themselves before, during and after their pregnancy.
Massachusetts Chapter
112 Turnpike Road, Suite 300
Westborough, MA 01581
Phone: 508-366-9066

Feingold Center at Children’s Hospital Boston – Waltham – Provides diagnosis and treatment of children born with birth defects, genetic diseases and intellectual disabilities. In 2011, the clinical care aspects of the Center was transferred to Children’s Hospital Boston in Waltham, where patients are now seen as part of the Division of Genetics at Children’s.
9 Hope Avenue
Waltham, MA
Phone: 781-216-2840
Fax: 781-216-2845

New England Newborn Screening Program – The New England Newborn Screening Program helps prevent treatable disorders through early detection.
New England Newborn Screening Program
Biotech 4, 2nd Floor
UMass Medical School
377 Plantation Street
Worcester, MA 01605
Phone: 774-455-4600
Fax:  774-455-4657
Email: nbs@umassmed.edu

Info for parents – Why screening is important for all babies.

New England Regional GeneNewborn Screening Programtics Group (NERGG)
Consortium of genetic service providers, public health planners, and consumer groups.  Promotes quality genetic services and educational programs through the NE region.
Carin J. Cornish, JD, Executive Director
New England Regional Genetics Group (NERGG)
222 Main Street
Wayland, MA 01778

Other Information:

For additional information about birth defects:

Center for Human Genetics – Offers genetic diagnostic tests, clinical diagnosis, prenatal diagnosis, and genetic counseling services, as well as education programs for over 30 years.
Riverside Technology Center
840 Memorial Drive, Suite 101
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-492-7083
Contact Email Addresses: amilunsky@chginc.org or jmilunsky@chginc.org

Birth Defects Facts – US National Library of Medicine

Birth Defects: Overview – National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 

March of Dimes Birth Defects & Other Health Conditions


Fact Sheet last updated on: 4/1/2020