Started in 1988, Arizona’s Birth Defects Monitoring Program (ABDMP) seeks to track birth defects among Arizona’s newborn population and provide services to the parents of children born with congenital defects.

Arizona is one of only 14 states or territories to have such a program, and it provides a wealth of information to anyone interested in birth defects and their effects on families and the community.

Birth Defects: A Statistical Picture From Arizona

Using data from ABDMP, along with information released by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), we’ve put together a fact-based look at birth defects and orofacial clefts in Arizona.

On average, an estimated 91,464 newborns are delivered in Arizona hospitals every year.
But for at least the last seven years, Arizona’s total number of births has been declining. In 2007, 102,981 babies were born in Arizona. By 2013, that number had dropped by 17% to 85,600.

Over its 26 year history, ABDMP has identified almost 39,000 babies born with birth defects in Arizona. Which means that:

  • around 1,500 children are born with birth defects every year in Arizona
  • the CDC estimates that one out of every 33 American babies is born with a birth defect

The proportion of babies born with birth defects in Arizona has decreased substantially over the years:

  • In 1991, Arizona saw one out of every 32 babies born with a birth defect
  • In 1995, one out of every 52 babies was born with a birth defect
  • In 1997, one out of every 54 babies was born with a birth defect
  • Between 1998 and 2000, one out of every 50 babies was born with a birth defect
  • Between 2003 and 2007, one out of every 100 babies was born with a birth defect
  • Between 2008 and 2009, one out of every 143 babies was born with a birth defect

Note that these numbers are based only on “reportable” birth defects, a category defined by the following factors:

  • mother lives in Arizona at time of child’s birth
  • child has structural, genetic or biochemical birth defect
  • defect must be diagnosed within first year of baby’s life

Obviously, children diagnosed after one year of life may not be included in the ABDMP’s figures. Some forms of cleft palate, most notably a submucous cleft palate, go undiagnosed for years.

Most Common Birth Defects In Arizona

In 2009, the last year for which ABDMP has released finalized data, the five most common birth defects in Arizona were:

  1. Down syndrome (an average of 110 babies every year)
  2. Cleft lip with and without cleft palate (an average of 98 babies every year)
  3. Cleft palate without cleft lip (an average of 52 babies every year)
  4. Gastroschisis (an average of 42 babies every year)
  5. Tetralogy of Fallot (an average of 35 babies every year)

Gastroschisis is a birth defect that affects a baby’s abdominal wall. A child with the condition will be born with a hole beside their belly button that allows the intestines to protrude outside the body.

In the US overall, around one out of every 5,000 babies is born with gastroschisis. In Arizona, the rate is higher: around 1.65 out of every 5,000 babies will be born with the birth defect.

While little is known about what causes gastroschisis, the Arizona Department of Health reports that other countries have reported an increase in the condition’s incidence over the last three decades. One theory is that a new environmental factor, like a pollutant, industrial chemical or prescription medication may contribute to the defect.

In 1991, 36 babies were born in Arizona with gastroschisis. In 2009, 64 babies were.

Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect characterized by four heart abnormalities:

  1. Ventricular septal defect: a hole in the wall that normally separates the heart’s lower chambers
  2. Enlarged aortic valve
  3. Pulmonary stenosis – a narrow valve between the heart and arteries that lead to the lungs, inhibiting blood flow
  4. Right ventricular hypertrophy – thickened walls of muscle in one of the heart’s primary chambers

In 1991, 22 babies were born with Tetralogy of Fallot in Arizona. In 2009, 47 babies were.

Orofacial Clefts In Arizona

While Arizona’s rate of birth defects has dropped drastically over-all, the amount of children born with orofacial clefts appears to have increased slightly over the years:

  • In 1991, 80 babies were born with cleft lip (with and without cleft palate) and 31 babies were born with isolated cleft palate.
  • In 2000, 96 children were born with cleft lip, and 53 with cleft palate.
  • 2005 saw a rather drastic increase, a year in which 124 Arizona babies were born with cleft lip and 65 were born with cleft palate.
  • By 2009, the numbers had dropped down to their 2000 levels. In that year, 97 babies were born with cleft lip and 53 with cleft palate in Arizona.

Where Are Birth Defects Most Common?

As you might expect, Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, is where the vast majority of babies with birth defects are born. With over 3 million residents, Maricopa County is more populous than 23 out of America’s 50 states.

Here are all of Arizona’s counties listed in order from most to least babies born with birth defects in 2009:

  1. Maricopa County (392)
  2. Pima County (105)
  3. Pinal County (49)
  4. Yuma County (30)
  5. Navajo County (16)
  6. Coconino County (14)
  7. Cochise County (13)
  8. Mohave County (11)
  9. Yavapai County (9)
  10. Santa Cruz County (7)
  11. Graham County (6)
  12. Apache County (5)
  13. Gila County (4)

In 2009, no babies were born with birth defects in Greenlee or La Paz Counties. Greenlee and La Paz consistently have Arizona’s lowest rates of congenital anomalies.

Links Between Ethnic Origin & Orofacial Clefts

Rates of cleft lip with and without cleft palate also vary by race.

Arizona’s large Native American population is most affected by orofacial clefts. Among the Native population, around 11.65 babies out of every 5,000 are born with an orofacial cleft.

For whites and Hispanics, the rate is 5.05 out of 5,000. Among African American families, 2.88 babies out of every 5,000 are born with an orofacial cleft, while 4.87 babies of Asian descent out of every 5,000 are.

For cleft palate without cleft lip, the incidence is fairly stable across race, although Arizona’s African American population is a notable exception. The rate of children born with cleft lip to Black families is almost half that of any other race.

Can Arizona’s Birth Defects Monitoring Program Help My Family?

If you gave birth to a child with birth defects, Arizona’s Birth Defects Monitoring Program is working to help your family access the services you need to raise a healthy, happy baby. In partnership with the Arizona Department of Health’s Newborn Intensive Care Program, ABDMP provided a range of services and care to more than 40% of the mothers who gave birth to children with birth defects in 2010.

You can find more information on help the program offers to families here.

Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuits In Arizona is sponsored by a national alliance of plaintiffs’ attorneys devoted to investigating claims of child birth defects that may have been contributed to by exposure to Zofran.

Zofran is a powerful anti-nausea drug approved by the FDA to treat severe nausea and vomiting in cancer patients and those undergoing surgical anesthesia. In a practice known as “off-label” use, physicians also prescribe Zofran to pregnant women to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness common during the first trimester.

But several independent research studies have begun to establish an association between Zofran’s active ingredient, ondansetron, and major birth defects like cleft palate and congenital heart defects. Moreover, seven families have filed lawsuits against Zofran’s manufacturer, claiming that the company was aware of ondansetron’s potential to increase the risk of an unborn baby developing birth defects. They allege that Zofran’s producer marketed the drug to physicians as a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness, despite having never studied its effects on pregnant women or their developing babies.

To find more information on the allegations made in these newly-filed Zofran birth defect lawsuits, click here.

Can Arizona Families File Zofran Lawsuits?

If you took Zofran during the first trimester of pregnancy as a morning sickness treatment, and then delivered a baby with birth defects, you may be entitled to bring a claim against the anti-nausea drug’s manufacturer.

While our attorneys are not admitted to practice law in the State of Arizona, our lawyers are licensed to practice in Delaware, where Zofran’s manufacturer is headquartered. As a result, we may be able to bring a claim against the company on your behalf in Delaware. We may also be able to recommend local Florida counsel who can attend to your lawsuit.

If you have any questions about the ongoing Zofran litigation, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call 1-877-620-8411 or fill out our online contact form to reach an experienced attorney 24 / 7.