The Department of Defense Birth Defects Registry: overview of a new surveillance system.
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is challenged with monitoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of its service members. The growing number of women on active duty and the diverse hazardous exposures associated with military service make reproductive health issues a special concern of DoD. To address this concern, the DoD Birth Defects Registry was established at the DoD Center for Deployment Health Research located at the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California. METHODS: The registry captures comprehensive data on healthcare utilization to calculate the prevalence of birth defects in the children of military beneficiaries. Population-based electronic surveillance is supplemented by active case validation efforts. RESULTS: Since its establishment in 1998, the registry has captured data on more than 90,000 births that occur in military families each year. Detailed analyses, to include linking registry data with military occupational exposure data (e.g., anthrax vaccination), are underway. CONCLUSIONS: The DoD Birth Defects Registry provides important reproductive health information on the geographically dispersed military population. This program is expected to complement civilian public health programs and be especially valuable to military members and their families.
Ryan, MA; Pershyn-Kisor, MA; Honner, WK; Smith, TC; Reed, RJ; Gray, GC
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