March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month - March of Dimes National Birth Defects Awareness Month is a time to learn about healthy pregnancy and baby care.

March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month 2025 – January 2025

March of Dimes National Birth Defects Awareness Month is observed every year in January. Birth defects are structural changes that usually occur during the first three months of pregnancy and affect one or more body parts. Annually, in the U.S. alone, approximately one in 33 babies is born with a birth defect. These defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, cleft palate, and spina bifida. March of Dimes National Birth Defects Awareness Month provides tips and information that women can use for a healthy pregnancy and better baby care.

History of March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month

The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization that has been assisting pregnant women for over eight decades. It supports the health of all mothers and babies, aids research, leads programs, and educates young families on these matters. It is a collaborative effort between the March of Dimes and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (C.D.C.).President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who contracted polio in 1921, initially founded the March of Dimes to combat polio. At first, the foundation’s focus was to fund a polio vaccine, and once this was successful, the focus shifted to the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality. Almost 3,100 local chapters that raise funds and deliver aid were subsequently set up. In 1958, the focus shifted again when the organization ventured into funding genetics research and establishing birth defect treatment centers in hospitals across the country. Dr. Virginia Apgar, an obstetrical anesthesiologist, also known for the famous Apgar Score, joined the March of the Dimes as Vice President for Medical Affairs during this period. The Apgar Score is a method of ascertaining the physical condition of newborns right at birth. Dr. Apgar also took a keen interest in premature births and brought attention to them as early as 1960.Another significant change in goals arrived when the organization introduced its walk-a-thon fundraising events. These walking events became popular, and WalkAmerica turned into a successful fundraising event. The first walk-a-thon was held in the U.S. in February 1969, in York. The March of Dimes organization has a long and interesting history. Initially known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis until the early 2000s, the organization’s formal name today is the March of Dimes Foundation.

March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month timeline

The Organization is Established

President Roosevelt establishes the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

The Women's Division

To empower women as primary caregivers, Elaine Whitelaw, the vice president of March of Dimes, creates the women's division.


The organization is renamed the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

International Reach

The March of Dimes extends its mission globally through the formation of a Global Programs Department.

Pre-Term Birth

Pre-term birth is the leading cause of death for children the world over, therefore, research and prevention of premature birth is the primary focus of the organization.

The March of Dimes Foundation

March of Dimes Foundation becomes the formal name of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month FAQs

When do most birth defects occur?

Around three to 12 fetal weeks is the point when major defects of the body and internal organs occur.

How can I protect my baby from birth defects?

Commit to healthy choices such as consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, avoiding harmful substances, living a healthy lifestyle, and talking to your health provider.

Which is the most preventable cause of birth defects?

The leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disorders in the U.S. is prenatal exposure to alcohol.

How to Observe March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month

  1. Spread the word

    Help generate engagement and awareness. A good way to do so is by posting on social media.

  2. Watch videos

    Watch videos or listen to podcasts that cover a wide range of topics. These could include the maternal risk factors of having a baby with a heart defect, tips for preventing infections during pregnancy, and more.

  3. Distribute information

    The C.D.C. and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network have free promotional materials and other resources that are available online. Why not print and distribute them?

5 Facts About Birth Defects

  1. Birth defects are common

    Every year, one in 33 newborns is diagnosed with a birth defect.

  2. Undetected defects

    Many birth defects are not discovered right at birth.

  3. Prognosis

    There are tests, like ultrasounds and amniocentesis, that detect birth defects such as spina bifida, heart defects, or Down Syndrome before birth.

  4. Other causes of birth defects

    Some major causes of birth defects include genetic issues, chromosomal problems, exposure to harmful radiation and chemicals, infections during pregnancy, and low-quality food.

  5. Prevention

    The mother can take some important steps before and during pregnancy that can help prevent birth defects.

Why March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month is Important

  1. Children are future

    This observance and the support this month provides are crucial. They are essential for encouraging parents to choose the best for their babies.

  2. Easily accessible information

    Information is key! There are many readily available resources and toolkits that make it easy to share information.

  3. Supportive networks

    Learn more about birth defects and their causes and symptoms. By doing so, you can offer more support to parents whose babies are affected.

March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month dates

Year Date Day
2023 January 2 Monday
2024 January 1 Monday
2025 January 1 Wednesday
2026 January 1 Thursday
2026 January 1 Friday
National Hangover Day
Global Family Day
Polar Bear Plunge Day
Solemnity of Mary
Universal Hour of Peace
Commitment Day
Euro Day
Z Day
Ellis Island Day
Apple Gifting Day
New Year’s Dishonor List Day
Public Domain Day
World Day of Peace
Copyright Law Day
New Year's Day
National Bloody Mary Day
Triumph of the Revolution
Rose Bowl Game
International Public Domain Day
National First-Foot Day
Sudan Independence Day
Tournament of Roses Parade
Haiti Independence Day
Mummer's Parade
Ring a Bell Day
National Shepherd Day
Poppy's Birthday
George Washington Carver's Birthday
Morris Chestnut's Birthday
Diet Resolution Week
Celebration of Life Week
National Silent Record Week
New Year’s Resolutions Week
National Time Consciousness Week
The World Series of Beer Pong
National Blood Donor Month
​National Glaucoma Awareness Month
National Oatmeal Month
National Train Your Dog Month
​Thyroid Awareness Month
Unchain a Dog Month
National Soup Month
National Mentoring Month
National Hobby Month
Walk Your Dog Month
Cervical Health Awareness Month
National Sunday Supper Month
National Fibre Focus Month
National Polka Music Month
International Brain Teaser Month
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month
International Wayfinding Month
Bread Machine Baking Month
California Dried Plum Digestive Month
Celebration Of Life Month
National Mail Order Gardening Month
Financial Wellness Month
International Creativity Month
Get A Balanced Life Month
Get Organized Month
International Child Centered Divorce Month
National Codependency Awareness Month
National Eye Care Month
National Volunteer Blood Donor Month
National Skating Month
Artichoke and Asparagus Month
National Braille Literacy Month
Rising Star Month
National Poverty in America Awareness Month
Poverty Awareness Month
International Quality of Life Month
National Book Blitz Month
Family Fit Lifestyle Month
National Staying Healthy Month
National Clean Up Your Computer Month
Be Kind To Food Servers Month
National Meat Month
Shape Up US Month
Dry January
National Birth Defects Prevention Month
National Stalking Awareness Month
National Radon Action Month
National CBD Month
Clap 4 Health Month
Prune Breakfast Month
Self-Love Month
Receding Gums Awareness Month
Little Things Mental Health Campaign
Apple and Apricot Month
START Child Health campaign
March of Dimes Birth Defects Prevention Month
National Be On-Purpose Month
National Adopt a Rescued Bird Month
International Change Your Stars Month
National Menudo Month
International Wealth Mentality Month
Retail Bakers Month
National Conscience Month
Tubers and Dried Fruit Month
National Black Diamond Month
National Personal Trainer Awareness Month
Children Impacted by Parent's Cancer Month
National Wheat Bread Month
Get Ireland Active
National Bath Safety Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Slow Cooking Month
National Thank You Month
Teen Driving Awareness Month
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month