AS INFANT mortality in the United States has declined during the 20th century, the proportion of infant deaths attributed to birth defects has increased steadily.1 Birth defects also contribute substantially to years of potential life lost before age 65.2
To evaluate the contribution of birth defects to infant mortality in the United States, mortality data for 1986 from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics were analyzed. Birth defects were defined as conditions coded within Congenital Anomalies (740.0-759.9) of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9). Excluded from this group were 460 babies with lung hypoplasia (748.5), patent ductus arteriosus (747.0), or hydrocephalus (742.3) secondary to intraventricular hemorrhage (772.1) who also had ICD-9 codes 764 or 765 (disorders relating to low birthweight and short gestation).
Of 38,957 reported infant deaths in 1986, 8005 (20.5%) had birth defects listed as the underlying cause of death; birth defects were the
Contribution of Birth Defects to Infant Mortality— United States, 1986. Arch Dermatol. 1989;125(11):1477. doi:10.1001/archderm.1989.01670230019002