Understanding human development across the life span, including birth defects and related or resulting disabilities, was a primary reason the NICHD was established in 1962.
Since then, the Institute has helped to establish a research community and research infrastructure for studying birth defects and related disabilities. Through its many components, the NICHD leads research efforts to understand birth defects; their causes; their prevention, detection, and treatments; and the long-term health outcomes of individuals and families affected by these problems.
The NICHD is aware that the term "birth defects" carries negative undertones and that the term does not reflect the many abilities and talents of those affected by these problems. Communities are discussing alternative terms for describing these birth problems. Until a consensus is reached, this website uses the term "birth defects" to describe health problems present at birth.