Perspectives on challenges and opportunities for birth defects surveillance programs during and after the COVID-19 era

Birth Defects Res. 2020 Aug;112(14):1039-1042. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1710. Epub 2020 May 16.


In recent months, various public health measures have been implemented throughout the world in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This outbreak, and the subsequent containment policies, may have a range of potential short- and long-term impacts on the monitoring and surveillance of other conditions, such as birth defects. In this commentary, we provide a perspective on these potential impacts on birth defects surveillance and analysis. We discuss possible effects on clinical birth defect diagnoses, routine birth defects surveillance system activities, and epidemiologic considerations, as well as opportunities for mitigating the impact of COVID-19. Like many other sectors of public health and medicine, birth defects surveillance programs may be faced with organizational and methodological obstacles in the wake of a changing landscape. A better understanding of these potential challenges faced by birth defects surveillance programs could facilitate better planning and collaboration across programs to overcome barriers to core activities and to prepare for novel opportunities for research and prevention.

Keywords: COVID-19; birth defects; birth defects registry; coronavirus; pregnancy; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • COVID-19
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology
  • Congenital Abnormalities / virology
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology