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The Impact of Birth Defects and Genetic Diseases

Judith G. Hall, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(11):1082-1083. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170480012002.
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PROBABLY MOST pediatricians do not realize that birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in North America. During the last few decades, enormous progress has been made in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases through improved antibiotics and more effective immunization; sudden infant death has been associated with the sleeping position, and, by altering the sleeping position, the occurrence of sudden infant death has been decreased. Prematurity can now be prevented and treated more effectively with surfactant, corticosteroids, and a variety of other interventions. Thus, congenital anomalies have become the most frequent cause of infant death. For infants with genetic disease and congenital anomalies who do not die, enormous morbidity, long-term effects on their families, and many hospitalizations are characteristic. The article by Yoon et al1 in this issue of the Archives makes it quite clear that we have a great deal to learn to properly


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