Birth defects (BDs) can be defined as abnormalities of structure or function that occur during intrauterine life and can be identified prenatally, after birth, or later in infancy (1). The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that every year an estimated 6% of babies worldwide are born with a BD, and over 300,000 deaths occur in infants within 4 weeks due to BDs (2). BDs are a global problem, and China has a high incidence of BDs as every year an estimated 0.9 million children — 6% of total national births — are born with BDs (3). BDs can contribute to long-term disability, which may have significant impacts on individuals, families, healthcare systems, and societies.
Fortunately, experience showed that about 70% of BDs can either be prevented or that affected children can be offered care (4). Therefore, in 2005, the Chinese government declared that September 12 would annually be “National Birth Defects Prevention Day” (NBDPD) to raise awareness of this serious problem and advocate for more BDs prevention, surveillance, care, and research. This year, NBDPD has become even more significant because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, the theme of the coming 16th NBDPD in 2020 will be “United against the pandemic, safeguarding new life.”