Birth Defects


A birth defect is an abnormality of structure and/or function present at birth that results in physical or mental disability. In Georgia, nearly 4,000 babies are born each year with a birth defect. One in six infant deaths is due to a birth defect, making birth defects the leading cause of death in the first year of life. Both genetic and environmental factors can cause birth defects. Risk factors may include drug or alcohol abuse, obesity, uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, exposure to certain medications, and certain infections during pregnancy (e.g., Zika, syphilis, herpes, and cytomegalovirus). 

Georgia Birth Defects Reporting

Currently under development, the Georgia Birth Defects Registry aims to initially capture population-level baseline rates of 41 birth defects and ensure affected children and their families are referred to early intervention services. As described on Georgia's Notifiable Disease List, birth defects are a reportable condition in Georgia. This includes fetal deaths of at least 20 weeks gestation and children up to six years of age with birth defects.

Legal authority for the DPH to collect health information is provided in Chapter 31 of the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.). O.C.G.A. § 31-12-2 allows DPH “…to declare certain diseases, injuries, and conditions to be diseases requiring notice and to require the reporting thereof…in a manner and at such times as may be prescribed.” This authority also provides that “any person, including, but not limited to, practitioners of the healing arts, submitting in good faith reports or data…in compliance with the provisions of this Code section shall not be liable for any civil damages therefore.”

If you are interested in reporting a birth defect, including Zika-related conditions, or would like more information on birth defects as a reportable condition in Georgia, please visit our Birth Defects Reporting page. 

For more information, please contact us at: [email protected]

Related Documents

National Birth Defects Prevention Network

NBDPN Surveillance Guidelines Chapter 3: Case Definition (revised March 2021)

Download this pdf file. NBDPN Surveillance Guidelines  Download this pdf file. Appendix 4.1 Descriptions of NBDPN Data Elements (revised March 2015)

Related Websites

National Birth Defects Prevention Network

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (CDC)

Birth Defects

Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Project (CDC)

Page last updated December 30, 2022