About the New York Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention
The New York State Department of Health operates the second largest statewide, population-based birth defects registry in the nation. The New York Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention has participated in CDC-funded research on birth defects since 1997. For BD-STEPS, the New York Center focuses on women and infants residing in 14 counties in Southern and Western NY.
The New York Center has expertise in studying medication use in pregnancy as well as examining exposures in the workplace and the environment that might lead to birth defects. We have established collaborations with the Wadsworth Center, the research-intensive public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health to use newborn screening blood spots for research on genetic and environmental risk factors for birth defects.
Principal Investigator Dr. Marilyn Browne, PhD
Marilyn Browne is a Research Scientist at the New York State Department of Health and an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. Her focus is gaps in knowledge about the risks and benefits of different treatments for chronic maternal conditions.
"Women should always discuss changes in medication use with their physicians, preferably before pregnancy. Untreated disease during pregnancy may present risks to both mom and baby compared to well-controlled disease."
— Dr. Marilyn Browne
Co-Principal Investigator Ms. Sarah Fisher, MPH
Sarah Fisher is a Research Scientist at the New York State Department of Health. Ms. Fisher works closely with Dr. Browne and Ms. Howley to coordinate the day-to-day activities of the New York BD-STEPS site, including developing communication materials, working with local field staff, and ensuring good data quality. Ms. Fisher’s research interests include the relationships between chronic maternal conditions, such as hypertension, the medications used during pregnancy to treat those conditions, and risk of birth defects.
"Because we still know relatively little about what causes birth defects, it can be hard for women to feel confident that they are doing everything they can to have a healthy pregnancy. My hope for BD-STEPS is that women who participate feel empowered by playing such a critical role in helping researchers learn more about how to prevent birth defects."
— Sarah Fisher
Co-Principal Investigator Ms. Meredith Howley, MS
Meredith Howley is a Research Scientist at the New York State Department of Health. Alongside Dr. Browne and Ms. Fisher, Ms. Howley works to coordinate the activities of the New York BD-STEPS site. In particular, she works with team members responsible for project coordination and tracking potential participants. Ms. Howley’s research focuses on birth defect causes related to maternal disease (including autoimmune disease and thyroid disease) and medication use during pregnancy.
"Pregnancy can be a stressful time for some women, especially for those with a chronic disease. I find it rewarding to know that BD-STEPS research will help provide women and their healthcare providers with important information they need to feel comfortable making decisions surrounding the treatment of chronic diseases during pregnancy."
— Meredith Howley
Notable Research Findings:
The following are selected examples of important research publications led by the NY Center.
Zhang W, Spero TL, Nolte CG, Garcia VC, Lin Z, Romitti PA, Shaw GM, Sheridan SC, Feldkamp ML, Woomert A, Hwang SA, Fisher SC, Browne ML, Hao Y, Lin S and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Projected Changes in Maternal Heat Exposure During Early Pregnancy and the Associated Congenital Heart Defect Burden in the United States. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Feb 5;8(3):e010995. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.118.010995.
Fisher SC, Van Zutphen AR, Werler MM, Romitti PA, Cunniff C, Browne ML and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal antihypertensive medication use and selected birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Res. 2018 Nov 15;110(19):1433-1442. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1372.
Howley MM., Feldkamp ML, Papadopoulos EA, Fisher SC, Arnold KE, Browne Ml and the Nation al Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal genitourinary infections and risk of birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Res. 2018 Nov 15;110(19):1443-1454. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1409.
Fisher SC, Van Zutphen AR, Werler MM, Lin AE, Romitti PA, Druschel CM, Browne ML and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal antihypertensive medication use and congenital heart defects: Updated results from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Hypertension. 2017 May;69(5):798-805. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.08773. Epub 2017 Apr 3.Howley MM, Carter TC, Browne ML, Romitti PA, Cunniff CM, Druschel CM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Fluconazole use and birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 May;214(5):657.e1-9.
Marilyn Browne, PhD
Congenital Malformations Registry
New York State Department of Health
Phone: (888) 296-8192