National and Local Research Projects
Research Faculty and Collaborators
National Birth Defects Prevention Study
On the national level, the Arkansas Center is a participant in
the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) that is
sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NBDPS is a population based, case-control study of
environmental and genetic risk factors for major birth defects.
Annually, each of the participating Centers for Birth Defects
Research and Prevention contributes 300 interviews with mothers of
children with major structural birth defects and 100 interviews with
mothers of children without birth defects. Following the maternal
interview, DNA samples are collected from the mother, the infant,
and the infant’s father to allow genotyping and identification of
genetic risk factors.
The major goal of the NBDPS is to provide information that will:
- increase the understanding of birth defects
- prevent many birth defects from occurring in the
The NBDPS is one of the largest case-control studies ever
conducted on the causes of birth defects.
Click here to view the CDC
Centers Fact Sheet
Genetic & Metabolic Determinants of Congenital Heart Defect Risk
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most prevalent and
serious of all recognized birth defects, occurring in 8-10 of every
1,000 live births in the US. More than 85% are thought to
result from a complex interplay among maternal lifestyle factors,
genetic susceptibilities, and metabolic phenotypes. Although
CHDs clearly pose a significant public health problem, clinical and
public health efforts designed to prevent most CHDs do not exist.
Researchers at the Arkansas Center are dedicated to understanding
the causes of CHDs with the longer-term goal of preventing
or at least significantly reducing CHDs based on
preconception genetic and metabolic screening.
In 2006, the Arkansas Center received a $3.0 million competitive
renewal from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. These
resources allow Charlotte Hobbs, MD, PhD, the Principal Investigator
and her colleagues to use state-of-the art technologies to identify
causes of genetic susceptibilities, metabolic determinants and
lifestyle factors. The research team will identify genetic and
metabolic markers identify women who are at increased risk of having
a pregnancy / fetus affected by a congenital heart defect. By
discovering life-style factors, genetic variants and metabolic
markers that may lead to congenital heart defects, primary
prevention methods may be developed.
Maternal Smoking: DNA Repair
Polymorphisms and the Risk of Septal Heart Defects
In 2008, the National Institutes of Health awarded a $648,000
grant to Arkansas Children's Hospital research Institute (ACHRI) for
Sadia Malik, MD, MPH (Principal Investigator) and her colleagues at
the Arkansas Center to investigate underlying genetic risks
associated with septal heart defects. Malik, a cardiologist at
ACH and an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of
Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine, has been
studying the connection between a mother's smoking habit and her
baby's risk of heart defects for several years. Her latest
study, funded by NIH, will look at how specific genetic
polymorphisms increase the risk of these types of defects among
babies whose mothers smoked while they were pregnant. Malik
will employ new genomic tools provided by the Human Genome Project
and the International HapMap Project. she also will examine
data on infants with heart defects identified by the National Birth
Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS).
Recurrent NTD Prevention Program
This educational program targets families affected by a neural tube defect. The purpose of this program is to provide information on the adequate amount of folic acid women should consume prior to their next pregnancy to prevent recurrent NTD.
Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and
13 Children's Way, Mail Slot 512-40
Little Rock, Arkansas 72202