Inpatient Hospitalization Costs Associated With Birth Defects Among Persons Aged <65 Years

United States, 2019

Justin Swanson, MPH; Elizabeth C. Ailes, PhD; Janet D. Cragan, MD; Scott D. Grosse, PhD; Jean Paul Tanner, PhD; Russell S. Kirby, PhD; Norman J. Waitzman, PhD; Jennita Reefhuis, PhD; Jason L. Salemi, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2023;72(27):739-745. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Changing treatments and medical costs necessitate updates to hospitalization cost estimates for birth defects. The 2019 National Inpatient Sample was used to estimate the service delivery costs of hospitalizations among patients aged <65 years for whom one or more birth defects were documented as discharge diagnoses. In 2019, the estimated cost of these birth defect–associated hospitalizations in the United States was $22.2 billion. Birth defect–associated hospitalizations bore disproportionately high costs, constituting 4.1% of all hospitalizations among persons aged <65 years and 7.7% of related inpatient medical costs. Updating estimates of hospitalization costs provides information about health care resource use associated with birth defects and the financial impact of birth defects across the life span and illustrates the need to determine the continued health care needs of persons born with birth defects to ensure optimal health for all.


In the United States, major structural birth defects attributable to genetic, chromosomal, teratogenic, or unknown etiologies affect approximately 3% of live births[1] and are the leading cause of infant mortality, responsible for 21% of newborn and infant deaths.[2] Their treatments incur significant financial costs throughout a person's lifetime. As treatments and medical costs change, updates to hospitalization cost estimates for birth defects are needed.