Background: Over the past decade, the Internet has become a powerful and effective tool for public health surveillance. The objectives of this project were to develop secure Web-based applications for Birth Defects Surveillance and to integrate them into routine surveillance activities of the New York State (NYS) Congenital Malformations Registry (CMR).
Methods: The Web-based applications were developed on infrastructure of New York State Health Provider Network using JAVA programming language. In addition, SAS/IntrNet software (SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC) was also used to leverage the data analysis and processing capabilities of SAS for generating real-time reports and performing statistical and spatial analyses.
Results: Congenital Malformations Registry staff have developed and implemented a Web-based integrated birth defect surveillance system, which enables staff to routinely perform surveillance activities including monitoring the quality, timeliness, and completeness of case reporting by hospitals; matching the CMR cases to the vital records; conducting trends analysis on birth defect prevalence and mortality with data query and visualization capabilities; and performing temporal and spatial analysis.
Conclusions: The CMR's Web-based integrated birth defects surveillance system empowers authorized users to perform routine surveillance activities using only a PC and a Web browser. This system will help NYS public health professionals and epidemiologists perform trend analyses and identify possible clusters of birth defects in space and time that may be related to environmental toxins.