Any structural or functional anomaly manifesting at any age and due to genetic or environmental causes acting before birth. The term does not specify the nature of the defect, whether it is due to genetic or chromosomal aberrations or damage to the fetus caused by disease such as the rubella virus or a toxic chemical. Whether this lack of precision about the meaning of the term is desirable or not depends on the context. There is uncertainty about whether some conditions, for instance autism, should or should not be classified as birth defects.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.