When the Charity was launched as the Birth Defects Foundation back in 1991, the term “birth defects” was not in common usage in this country.
At that time research into inborn conditions was very much a “divide and conquer” process. Research was being carried out into individual conditions, in a very separate manner, and there was little public awareness that the diseases, syndromes and malformations threatening our children’s health shared a common factor. There was also little awareness of the scale of the problem.
As a national charity committed to combating birth defects of all kinds, we undertook to campaign to raise the level of awareness of the problems caused by inborn conditions. We took the revolutionary step of recognising the commonality of inborn conditions. In other words, that birth defects have one common factor; they occur in the womb.
This approach means that we can fund research into a wide variety of conditions. We aren’t limited to researching specific syndromes or diseases, we also research conditions which may occur in many different syndromes. This means our research has the potential to benefit many, many people.
It also means that we can offer our services such as our Nurse service and our Reach Out fund to affected families, whatever the specific condition concerned.
It is gratifying to see that our years of campaigning have are paying off. “Birth defects” is now a widely used term in this country – it is now broadly understood that these diseases, syndromes and malformations share a common link. Campaigns such as the ‘Feeling Lucky’ Personal Action Plan, promoting pre-conceptual health awareness, have also put the point across that some conditions are preventable, and there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of inborn conditions.
There is still much that we have to do, and as BDF Newlife we continue in our campaigning to bring inborn conditions to the attention of those who have the power to make changes, for the benefit of our children and our children’s children.