January is National Birth Defects Month

Birth defects affect us all. What effect will you have on birth defects?

The Arkansas Reproductive Health Monitoring System (ARHMS) is a well established public health program in birth defect tracking. ARHMS, which is administered within Arkansas Children's Hospital, tracks birth defect trends, responds to inquiries from the public, provides the data infrastructure for scientific research, and performs prevention activities aimed at reducing the occurrence of birth defects.

We seek to identify and to describe patterns of birth defects in Arkansas in order to support scientific research. We hope to determine causes and therefore prevent birth defects among state and global populations.

Contact ARHMS for additional information

Arkansas Reproductive Health Monitoring System
Arkansas Children's Research Institute
13 Children's Way, Slot 842
Little Rock, AR 72202


Email: ARHMS@archildrens.org

Founded in 1980, the Arkansas Reproductive Health Monitoring System (ARHMS) is one of the oldest active birth defect surveillance systems in the United States. In February 1985, a legislative act was passed by the 75th General Assembly of the State of Arkansas and signed by former President Bill Clinton (who was then the Governor of Arkansas) to officially establish appropriate funding for ARHMS.

From 1985 to 1995, ARHMS began monitoring about a quarter to a third of the births in the state for selected congenital anomalies. In 1995, ARHMS received a 3-year Cooperative Agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance its state-based birth defects surveillance system. The funding from this Agreement enabled true statewide expansion. ARHMS began surveying all births in the state for the presence of birth defects and surveyed births statewide.

By 2008, ARHMS was fully funded with state appropriations. With these additional state dollars, ARHMS has allowed researchers in the state to compete and secure funding for multiple birth defect research studies.
ARHMS uses population-based active surveillance to monitor birth defects diagnosed prenatally and among children less than 2 years old. It is state-wide and monitors all pregnancy outcomes among all Arkansas residents. An abstraction team, composed of specially-trained professionals in health information management, travel throughout the state and review medical records from discharge diagnoses in all Arkansas hospitals that provide obstetrical or pediatric care, as well as selected pediatric specialty-care clinics and prenatal diagnostic centers. Currently, ARHMS monitors all births occurring in more than 40 delivering hospitals, the state’s primary prenatal diagnostic clinics, and the state’s only pediatric specialty hospital and associated clinics.

Birth defect registries like ARHMS are important to help improve the health of the population by accurately tracking birth defects, identifying trends in the prevalence of birth defects, and providing the basis for studying causes and risk factors of birth defects as well as referral activities. Information from birth defect registries is used by health professionals, policymakers and scientists to find solutions and help those affected live a better and healthier life.
ARHMS was initially established with the purpose of monitoring adverse reproductive outcomes, including birth defects, and reporting occurrence and trends for these adverse events.

The Birth Defect Prevention Act of 1996 enabled CDC to establish Centers of Excellence in the Research and Prevention of Birth Defects. The Arkansas Birth Defect Research and Prevention Center, one of six CDC-funded Centers, was built on the foundation of ARHMS.

Over the past 30+ years, ARHMS has expanded from being simply a repository of collected data to serving as the rich source of research data for research programs such as the Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention. Researchers from the center and across the country used the data to conduct local and national epidemiologic research studies. Information gleaned from these studies is used for the prevention, advocacy and education of families of childbearing-age and those affected by birth defects.

With increased funding and statewide surveillance, ARHMS has become a well-known and well-respected birth defect registry. ARHMS was accepted as a member of the International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research, a collaboration of worldwide leaders in birth defects surveillance charged with reducing birth defects worldwide.

Data Requests

We support scientific endeavors in birth defects and any public health activities that would like to utilize our data and resources. We welcome collaborations and do our best to contribute to inquiries related to the cause. If you are interested in our data, you can make data requests through this link below. Please contact us for detailed instructions.

Submit Data Request