Are Children Born with Birth Defects at Increased Risk of Injuries in Early Childhood?

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To investigate the extent to which children with birth defects experience differential likelihood of various injuries and injury-related hospitalizations in early childhood.

Study design

The Florida Birth Defects Registry was used to identify infants born 2006–2010 with select birth defects. Injury matrices were used to detect injuries in inpatient, ambulatory, and emergency department admissions for each infant up to their third birthday. χ2tests were used to compare sociodemographic and perinatal characteristics of children, by presence of an injury-related hospital admission. Adjusted multivariable logistic and zero-inflated negative binomial regression models were used to investigate birth defect and injury associations and related hospital use.


We observed a 21% (99% CI: 1.16–1.27) increased odds of injury in children with birth defects. All birth defect subgroups had a statistically significantly increased odds of injury (excluding chromosomal defects), with adjusted ORs ranging from 1.19 to 1.40. The combination of birth defects and injuries resulted in 40% (99% CI: 1.36–1.44) more frequent injury-related hospital visits and a 3-fold (99% CI: 2.76–2.96) increase in time spent receiving inpatient medical care. Over 30% of children with critical congenital heart defects had an injury-related hospital admission.


Children born with specific birth defects are at increased likelihood of various injuries during early life. Although the magnitude of this increased likelihood varied by the mechanism by which the injury occurred, the location of the injury, and the type of birth defect, our study findings support a direct association between birth defects and injuries in early life.

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