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 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.
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.
Notable Research Findings:
The following are selected examples of important research publications led by the NY Center.
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, Browne ML, Van Zutphen AR, Richardson SD, Blossom SJ, Broussard CS, Carmichael SL, Druschel CM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal autoimmune disease and birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2016 Nov;106(11):950-962.
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.
Van Zutphen AR, Bell EM, Browne ML, Lin S, Lin AE, Druschel CM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal asthma medication use during pregnancy and risk of congenital heart defects. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2015 Nov;103(11):951-61.
Michalski AM, Richardson SD, Browne ML, Carmichael S, Canfield M, VanZutphen AR, Anderka M, Olney R, Marshall E, Druschel CM. Sex ratios among infants with birth defects, National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997-2009. Am J Med Genet A. 2015 May;167A(5):1071-81.
Browne ML, Van Zutphen AR, Botto LD, Louik C, Richardson S, Druschel CM. Maternal butalbital use and selected defects in the national birth defects prevention study. Headache. 2014 Jan;54(1):54-66.
Lin S, Herdt-Losavio ML, Chapman BR, Munsie JP, Olshan AF, Druschel CM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal occupation and the risk of major birth defects: a follow-up analysis from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Jun;216(3):317-23.
Browne ML, Hoyt AT, Feldkamp ML, Rasmussen SA, Marshall EG, Druschel CM, Romitti PA. Maternal caffeine intake and risk of selected birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Feb; 91(2):93-101.
Marilyn Browne, PhD
Congenital Malformations Registry
New York State Department of Health
Phone: (888) 296-8192