The Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is a key component of the Massachusetts public health system. It is made up of experienced staff from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, and MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGH), Genetics Unit. The Center also draws on the expertise of the region's clinicians and researchers and fosters communication among them.
The Massachusetts Center performs the following activities:
- Collects data on subjects with birth defects and identifies related trends
- Searches for causative factors linked with birth defects
- Addresses community concerns about birth defects
- Provides information and referral to families of children with birth defects
- Measures the success of screening and prevention efforts
Marlene Anderka ScD, MPH, has served as the Principal Investigator and Director of the Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) since 2001. She oversees the collection of NBDPS data as well as development and implementation of the birth defects research agenda for the MA Center. She works closely with the two Center Co-Principal Investigators: Allen Mitchell, MD, Director of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and Lewis Holmes, MD, Director of the Genetics Unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children...Read More
Local Activities and Research:
As part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), the Massachusetts Center leads national efforts to understand the use of the wide range of medications taken by pregnant women and to evaluate whether these medications may increase the risk of birth defects. In this important and specialized area, we conduct our own investigations of the NBDPS data, and provide expert advice to researchers in other centers around the country. Some of our current and future research includes:
- Studying whether prescription, over-the-counter medicines and herbal preparations might increase risks for birth defects.
- Identifying genetic risk factors that play an important role in whether a particular medicine increases the risk of birth defects. Families planning pregnancies can use this kind of information to avoid certain medications which could harm their babies.
- Studying whether new genetic mutations can cause birth defects, such as congenital heart defects, limb deficiencies, and diaphragmatic hernia.
- Linking Massachusetts birth defects surveillance data to the unique Massachusetts Pregnancy to Early Life Longitudinal database so we can identify medical services that are used and the costs and outcomes among infants with selected birth defects.
- Studying the link between assisted reproductive technology and higher risks of birth defects. Massachusetts families frequently use assisted reproductive technology and our center will study this problem with the hope of identifying how risks might be reduced in the future.
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University
- MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGH), Genetics Unit
- Brigham & Women’s Hospital
- Massachusetts Chapter of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
- Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health
- Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
- Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
- Children’s Hospital Boston, Division of Endocrinology
Children’s Hospital Boston, Department of Surgery
- Finnell Laboratory, University of Texas-Austin, Institute of Biosciences and Technology
- Seidman Laboratory at Harvard Medical School
Mitchell AA, Gilboa SM, Werler MM, Kelley KE, Louik C, Hernández-Díaz S. Medication use during pregnancy, with particular focus on prescription drugs: 1976-2008. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2011; 205(1):51.e1-8.
Toh S, Mitchell AA, Anderka M, de Jong-van den Berg LT, Hernández-Díaz S. Antibiotics and oral contraceptive failure - a case-crossover study. Contraception. 2011; 83(5):418-25.
Werler MM, Ahrens KA, Bosco JL, Mitchell AA, Anderka MT, Gilboa SM, Holmes LB, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Use of antiepileptic medications in pregnancy in relation to risks of birth defects. Annals of Epidemiology. 2011; 21(11):842-850.
Anderka M, Mitchell AA, Louik C, Werler MM, Hernández-Díaz S, Rasmussen SA, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Medications used to treat nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and the risk of selected birth defects. Birth Defects Research (Part A): Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2012; 94(1):22-30.
Getz KD, Anderka MT, Werler MM, Case AP. Short interpregnancy interval and gastroschisis risk in the national birth defects prevention study. Birth Defects Research (Part A): Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2012; 94(9):714-720.
Hernandez RK, Werler MM, Romitti P, Sun L, Anderka M, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug use among women and the risk of birth defects. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012; 206(3):228e1-228e8.
Margulis AV, Mitchell AA, Gilboa SM, Werler MM, Mittleman MA, Glynn RJ, Hernández-Díaz S, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Use of topiramate in pregnancy and risk of oral clefts. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012; 207(5):405.e1-405.e7.