Skip to content

Birth Defects Data and Information

Some Birth
Defects of Interest

Heart defects
Down syndrome
Cleft lip/cleft palate
Spina bifida/ meningocele

Approximately 1800 infants are born with a birth defect in SC each year (3% or 1 out of every 33 births). The SC Birth Defects Program gathers information on all babies born with birth defects in SC.

The cause of most birth defects is unknown. The developing baby is dependent on his/her mother’s body and her environment. Therefore, eating healthy foods and observing healthy behaviors play an important role in preventing birth defects.

Birth defects occur while the baby is developing in the womb. Some birth defects may be physical (such as a cleft lip or heart defect), while others may cause the body to not function properly (such as a metabolic condition or mental retardation). A child born with one birth defect can also have others. In fact, nearly 12% of all children with a birth defect have more than one defect.

Gathering information about birth defects increases understanding of the causes of birth defects and promotes better treatment and prevention of birth defects for South Carolina's children. The SC Birth Defects Program conducts active surveillance of approximately 50 birth defects from all South Carolina's delivering hospitals. The SC Birth Defects Program follows guidelines found in the South Carolina Birth Defects Act.

Support Information
South Carolina's interagency early intervention system for infants and toddlers under three years of age with developmental delays, or who have conditions associated with developmental delays.
Children With Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN))
Children and youth (birth to 21yrs.) who have or are at risk for selected physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions that require special health related services.
Care Line
DHEC's Care Line is a statewide, toll-free help line that provides assistance and support to women for their children and families.
The Greenwood Genetic Center
GGC is a statewide system of clinics for genetic evaluations, genetic counseling, and diagnostic testing. GGC has strong research involvement in birth defects and developmental and intellectual disabilities
Family Connection of South Carolina
Links parents and families of children with special healthcare needs and disabilities with resources, support and education.
Help Me Grow
Links families of children at risk for developmental, behavioral, or learning problems to community-based services. Offers developmental screening, care coordination, and follow up with primary care doctors.






Use this interactive tool to choose hospitalization indicators and measures to generate maps, bar charts and trend lines.

Track it. Map It.

Understanding how the data are collected, calculated, and interpreted.

Dataset Details

Density Maps

Density maps help us to understand where birth defects are occurring in South Carolina. Density maps may be useful in identifying areas of the state where outreach is needed to reach families impacted by birth defects and areas that have more than the expected number of birth defects.

  • Density Maps of Birth Defects Frequencies show where the highest numbers of birth defects are occurring in South Carolina.
  • Density Maps of Birth Defects Rates display the number of birth defects in an area divided by the number of live births in that area; shows the areas that are having more birth defects per 10,000 live births than other areas.
  • Definitions
    • Anencephaly(CDC) - A major birth defect occurring during the first month of pregnancy. It is a type of neural tube defect in which the baby is born with a portion of the brain/skull missing.

      Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate(CDC) - A birth defect of the baby's lip or mouth occurring during early pregnancy.

      Gastroschisis(CDC) - A birth defect of the abdominal wall occurring during the early stages of pregnancy.

      Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome(CDC) - A birth defect which affects normal blood flow through the heart due to the improper development of the heart's left side.

      Upper/Lower Limb Deficiencies(CDC) - Referred to as a "limb reduction", this birth defect occurs when a part of or the entire arm or leg of the baby fails to form completely during pregnancy.

      Spina Bifida (w/o anencephaly)(CDC) - A type of neural tube defect, spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and is typically apparent at birth.

      Tetralogy of Fallot(CDC) - A birth defect that affects the normal flow of blood through the heart due to the failure of the baby's heart to form correctly during pregnancy.

      Transposition of the Great Arteries (vessels)(CDC) - A heart condition that is present at birth where the two main arteries of the heart are switched in position.

      Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome)(CDC) - Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome.

    Top of Page

    Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of having a child with birth defects?

    Many birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Not all birth defects are preventable; however a woman can increase her chance of having a healthy baby by adopting positive behaviors for a healthy pregnancy.

    Plan your pregnancy

    • Get prenatal care. See your doctor before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Early and regular prenatal care is important for both the mother and the developing baby.
    • Have any chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure under control before getting pregnant.
    • Take a multi-vitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of  folic acid  before and during pregnancy and even if you are not planning on having a baby! Taking folic acid before pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.

    Take care of yourself

    • Folic Acid FactsDuring pregnancy it is important to stay healthy and give your baby a healthy start.
    • Eat a healthy-balanced diet. Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding have special nutritional needs.
    • Get a moderate amount of exercise and plenty of rest.
    • Datos sobre el acido folicoDetermine your workplace exposures and hazards that may harm your unborn baby.
    • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.
    • Consult with your doctor before taking over-the-counter drugs.

    Top of Page

    DHEC Resources

    Other Resources