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DHEC receives birth defects surveillance grant

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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is one of 10 organizations nationwide to receive a Center for Disease Control and Prevention grant to improve the state’s capacity for birth defects surveillance.

The $1.5 million grant from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities will be awarded during a five-year period to the South Carolina Birth Defects Program overseen by DHEC.

“While we know about the birth defects that are identified prior to birth or identified soon after delivery during the neonatal period, unfortunately, there are a large number of defects that are missed unless we check with pediatricians' offices, prenatal offices, and other health care settings,” Vinita Oberoi Leedom, manager of the state program, said in a news release. “Finding and counting these defects will help our state better estimate how many people have birth defects, connect them to services, and help make a difference through research. This grant will help us to do that." 

The SCBDP works with health care providers across the state to identify birth defects in pregnant women and in children under age two who have been admitted to the hospital. That data is used to monitor birth defects totals and to refer families to services.

Dr. Sherri Taylor, maternal fetal medicine specialist at Prisma Health, said she sees thousands of patients a year who have high-risk pregnancies.

“This is a great opportunity for providers and the department of public health to partner so we can gain knowledge about statewide rates of birth defects,” said Taylor, who serves on the SCBDP advisory council.  “Physicians will be able to tell families how common certain birth defects are in our state. We will have better data, can design better programs based on that data, and offer improved counseling for all of our patients.”

More information is available in the South Carolina Birth Defects Resource Guide (.pdf) or on the CDC website.

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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