DSHS Receives CDC Grant to Help Identify, Report Birth Defects
By Sean Price

The state of Texas received an assist in combating birth defects when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) a grant for improved surveillance and diagnosis totaling $300,000 per year for five years, the state agency announced. 

The Texas Medical Association supported the grant application from DSHS’s Texas Birth Defects Registry in a letter to CDC, calling the registry “one of the largest population-based birth defects surveillance systems in the world.” 

“Additional funding to focus on innovative linkages, new epidemiologic approaches, and expanded prevention/outreach would be a significant contribution to the area of birth defects surveillance and related activities in Texas,” Wendy Chung, MD, chair of the TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, said in the letter. 

About 6% of all births in Texas from 2012 to 2017 were affected by one or more major birth defects. 

The CDC grant is expected to help strengthen surveillance of birth defects by, among other things, allowing the agency to add data from Texas Medicaid, according to the DSHS announcement in May. This will help show whether birth defects are being underreported and identify missing procedures or prenatal diagnoses. It will also allow the registry to assess the state’s readiness to exchange birth defects data with electronic health systems. 

In addition, the grant will help: 

  • Improve the quality of birth defects surveillance data by collaborating with CDC to develop, pilot, and evaluate data quality;
  • Introduce strategies to increase understanding of birth defects epidemiology through multi-state collaborations;
  • Better identify at-risk populations; and
  • Increase Texas’ ability to quickly respond to emerging threats to mothers and babies. 

TMA policy highlights physicians’ strong support of the Texas Birth Defects Registry, Dr. Chung said in her letter. Also, TMA members and councils have regularly assisted DSHS’s work in identifying and reducing the number of birth defects.

Last Updated On

July 07, 2021

Originally Published On

July 07, 2021

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Sean Price


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Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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