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North Carolina Study Center: North Carolina
Phone: 877-204-5994
Website: http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/bdmp/
E-mail: nc@nbdps.org
  1. Study Center
  2. Principal Investigators
  3. Local Activities & Research
  4. Partners
  5. Recent Publications

Study Center
The North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is a collaborative effort between the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and the North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program in the North Carolina Division of Public Health. The Center's mission is to conduct epidemiologic research into the causes of birth defects, and to promote the use of research findings to enhance public health education and prevention efforts in order to improve the health of North Carolina children.

The UNC Department of Epidemiology is an internationally recognized leader in epidemiologic research and training with strong ties to state and local public health agencies in North Carolina. The North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program maintains a statewide, population-based birth defects surveillance system, which provides the basis for birth defects research, education, and public health promotion efforts in the state. This partnership brings to the center considerable expertise to sustain a strong research program and affords a unique opportunity for training the next generation of public health researchers and practitioners for North Carolina.

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Andrew OlshanDr. Andrew F. Olshan is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He has an established research record covering genetic, occupational and environmental epidemiology focused specifically on reproduction, birth defects and cancer. As Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Olshan co-directs the NC Center’s research agenda and oversees all staff and study-related activities...Read More

"It’s truly a privilege to help lead the efforts, nationally and in North Carolina, to uncover the causes of birth defects that will ultimately lead to targeted prevention. Our center includes very talented staff, students, and investigators that work synergistically to collect and analyze large volumes of complex data. Our collaborations with other centers have been especially beneficial. We are grateful to have such enthusiastic participation from North Carolina families."
— Dr. Andrew F. Olshan

Co-Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tania DesrosiersDr. Tania Desrosiers has over 10 years experience in birth defects epidemiology. Her primary research interest is in modifiable, non-genetic causes of birth defects, with the ultimate goal of prevention through evidence-based translation to clinical and public health practice. As co-Principal Investigator of the NC Center, Dr. Desrosiers co-directs the Center’s research agenda, oversees implementation of BD-STEPS in North Carolina, and collaborates with the CDC and other BD-STEPS Centers on study-wide research and protocol development. Dr. Desrosiers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a core faculty member of the Department’s program in Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology.

"The fact that the cause of most cases of birth defects remains unknown is a deep source of motivation to continue this important work. I am especially grateful to the families that contribute their time and personal stories to BD-STEPS. We honor them by doing our very best to produce innovative, interdisciplinary, high-impact research toward our shared goal of understanding why birth defects happen, so that we can prevent more cases in North Carolina and across the world."
— Dr. Tania A. Desrosiers

Former Co-Principal Investigator:
Dr. Robert MeyerDr. Robert Meyer has over 20 years of experience in birth defects surveillance and research, and has published over 100 articles in birth defects epidemiology and maternal and child health. He served as co-Principal Investigator of the North Carolina Center from 2002 to 2018, and was Director of the Birth Defects Monitoring Program at the North Carolina Division of Public Health from 1997 to 2018. For his dedication to research in birth defects, he was honored by his peers with the National Birth Defects Prevention Network’s Godfrey P. Oakley Jr. Award in 2011. Dr. Meyer is currently an Adjunct Professor of Maternal and Child Health at UNC. He remains a critical member of the NC Center through active engagement in research collaborations and mentoring the next generation of birth defects researchers.

Local Activities and Research:
Funding for the North Carolina Center has enabled the state to pursue a number of important avenues of research and prevention, including:

  • Examining geographic patterns and risk factors for birth defects.
  • Investigating parental occupational and environmental exposures that may cause birth defects.
  • Studying the way in which a person’s genetic makeup and environmental exposures may interact to increase the risk for certain birth defects.
  • Evaluating the effect of folic acid education programs on the occurrence of neural tube defects.
  • Improving access to services for children with birth defects and their families.

The North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention takes pride in strong, long-standing partnerships with our local partner organizations. Our partnerships for NBDPS have included the following:

  • Duke University Medical Center
  • University of North Carolina Center for Maternal and Infant Health
  • North Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
  • North Carolina Folic Acid Council
These partnerships bring together experts in the areas of epidemiology, surveillance, embryology, teratology, and medical genetics, and health promotion.

Recent Publications

Rappazzo KM, Warren JL, Meyer RE, Herring AH, Sanders AP, Brownstein NC, Luben TJ. Maternal residential exposure to agricultural pesticides and birth defects in a 2003 to 2005 North Carolina birth cohort. Birth Defects Research 2016; 106(4): 240–249.

Stingone JA, Luben TJ, Daniels JL, Fuentes M, Richardson DB, Aylsworth AS, Herring AH, Anderka M, Botto L, Correa A, Gilboa SM, Langlois PH, Mosley B, Shaw GM, Siffel C, Olshan AF and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.  Maternal exposure to criteria air pollutants and congenital heart defects in offspring: Results from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Environmental Health Perspectives 2014; 122: 863-872.

Sotres-Alvarez D, Siega-Riz AM, Herring AH, Carmichael SL, Feldkamp ML, Hobbs CA, Olshan AF and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal dietary patterns are associated with risk of neural tube and congenital heart defects. American Journal of Epidemiolgy 2013; 1;177(11):1279-88.

Desrosiers TA, Herring AH, Shapira SK, Hooiveld M, Luben TJ, Herdt-Losavio ML, Lin S, Olshan AF and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Paternal occupation and birth defects: findings from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2012; Aug; 69(8): 534-542.

Siega-Riz AM, Herring AH, Olshan AF, Smith J, Moore CA and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. The joint effects of maternal prepregnancy [pregravid] body mass index and age on the risk of gastroschisis. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2009 Jan; 23(1): 51-7.