About Congenital Anomalies

Congenital anomalies are structural or functional anomalies present at birth that can cause physical disability, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), and other health problems.1,2 Some may be fatal, especially if not detected and treated early.

There are two main categories of congenital anomalies: structural and functional/developmental. This information focuses on structural congenital anomalies, their causes, their prevention, and their treatment. Functional/developmental congenital anomalies are addressed more completely in the IDDs content.

Some congenital anomalies affect many parts or processes in the body, leading to both structural and functional problems.

Researchers have identified thousands of different congenital anomalies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), congenital anomalies are the leading cause of death for infants in the United States during the first year of life.3


  1. World Health Organization. (2023). Congenital disorders. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/birth-defects external link
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). What are birth defects? Retrieved December 19, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/birth-defects/about
  3. Mathews, T. J., MacDorman, M. F., & Thoma, M. E. (2015). Infant mortality statistics from the 2013 period: Linked birth/infant death data set. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(9), 1–30. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_09.pdf (PDF 993 KB)
top of pageBACK TO TOP