Skip to main content Skip to navigation
We care about your privacy. Read about your rights and how we protect your data. Get Details

Pediatric Birth Defects

Key points about birth defects in children

  • A birth defect is a health problem or abnormal physical change that is present when a baby is born. Birth defects range from very mild to life-threatening and limiting.
  • Birth defects can happen for many reasons. But often the cause isn’t known.
  • Many birth defects can be diagnosed before birth with tests. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about testing.
  • The risk for birth defects varies by type of defect, family health history, age of parents and other factors. Your provider can tell you more about your risk of having a child with a birth defect.
  • There is no cure for birth defects. But children can often be treated to help reduce problems.
  • Researchers are trying to find ways to prevent many birth defects. Not all birth defects can be prevented. Taking steps to be healthy before and during pregnancy is important.

Prevention and Risk Assessment

  • What is a birth defect in children?
  • What causes birth defects in a child?
  • Which children are at risk for birth defects?
  • What are the symptoms of birth defects in a child?
  • What are possible complications of birth defects in a child?
  • How can I help prevent birth defects in my child?


  • How are birth defects diagnosed in a child?


  • How are birth defects treated in a child?
  • How can I help my child live with a birth defect?
  • Next steps
Children's Team

Children's Team


Marshall Summar

Marshall Summar

Division Chief, Genetics and Metabolism
Director, Rare Disease Institute
Our Stories

Our Stories

conjoined twins

Tyson and Tyler's Story

Before they had even entered the world, Children's National doctors had hatched a plan to safely deliver and then separate conjoined twins Tyson and Tyler.



Cancer Genetics Program

Our cancer genetics experts help answer important questions about your child’s inherited risk for cancer.

Rare Disease Institute

Children’s National Rare Disease Institute (CNRDI) is a first-of-its-kind center focused exclusively on advancing the care and treatment of children and adults with rare genetic diseases.

Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases

See other ways to give

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you. Make it happen