The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) maintains a passive birth defects registry for Missouri resident live births and fetal deaths based on linkage of defects reported on birth certificates, fetal death certificates, death certificates, and hospital discharge data. Cases include defects diagnosed and reported through the first year of life.

The registry includes data for all live births and fetal deaths in the state, but is not complete for some counties in which a substantial proportion of residents use out-of-state hospitals. While birth, fetal death, and death certificates are available for Missouri residents using out-of-state hospitals, DHSS has limited access to hospital discharge data from these hospitals.

Births since 2001 are included in the data set. Because of changes in access to data sets, and changes in data items included in each component data source, there are inconsistencies over time. The data for a calendar year of births are generally available 24 months after the close of the year. The delay is necessary because cases are ascertained through the first year of life.

Birth defect registry data are used to monitor the health status of Missourians, particularly in areas potentially affected by environmental contamination. The data are also used to assist public health and educational officials in the development and conduct of programs to assist affected families, and to assist families in gaining access to state services.