Priority Area: Healthy Environment - Birth Defects Prevention

Birth Defects Prevention

The New York State Department of Health maintains the Congenital Malformations Registry (CMR), which is one of the largest statewide, population-based birth defects registries in the nation. Analysis of CMR information helps public health providers and scientists understand the frequency, variety and pattern of congenital malformations in NYS. The CMR participates in various community outreach and educational activities to lower the risk of preventable birth defects, such as the Folic Acid Awareness campaign to lower the risk of neural tube defects.


  • Reduce preventable birth defects to the maximum extent practicable.
    1. By 2013, reduce the number of neural tube defect (NTD) pregnancies in NYS by 10%.
    2. By 2013, reduce the recurrence risk of NTD pregnancies in NYS by 50%.

Indicators For Tracking Public Health Priority Areas

Prevalence of NTDs over time: anencephalus and spina bifida (ICD-9-CM codes 740 & 741) per 10,000 live births in New York State

Trends identified through NTD Surveillance Project in the lower Hudson Valley of NYS. (Provided continued funding for this project is available)

Data and Statistics

Congenital Malformations Registry (CMR) Birth Defects Data

*Note: The numbers of NTD cases are very small and the CMR only collects data on live births. Therefore, the calculated prevalence of NTDs does not include NTD-affected pregnancies that may be electively terminated or result in a spontaneous fetal death. Improved ascertainment of cases using the Health Provider Network may also affect the rates. However, monitoring the prevalence of NTDs over time should still provide an indication about reduction in the number of NTD pregnancies.

NYS Vital Statistics Live Birth Data

Strategies – The Evidence Base for Effective Interventions

  • CDC. The Prevention of Neural Tube Defects with Folic Acid. Available online

    The purpose of this document is to review what is known about the prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs) with folic acid. The review includes an overview of the morphogenesis and epidemiology of neural tube defects; the evidence for an association between folic acid and NTDs; the proposed mechanisms for the prevention of NTDs using folic acid; and the options available for increasing folic acid consumption in communities.

  • CDC. Preventing Neural Tube Birth Defects: A Prevention Model and Resource Guide Available online.

    This guide demonstrates how you can design, develop, deliver, and evaluate a birth defects prevention program. It describes real-life folic acid campaigns to assist in developing a creative community program.

Return on Investment

  1. Reduced personal and financial strains on a family
  2. Decrease health care costs

More Information

Congenital Malformations Registry

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Environmental & Occupational Epidemiology
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1203
Albany, New York 12237

Website: Congenital Malformations Registry