The surprise release follows recent and sustained remarks by businessman Donald Trump, among others, that raised doubts as to whether the president was born in the United States.
"Over the last two and half years, I have watched with amusement. I have been puzzled with the degree with which this thing just kept going," Obama told reporters Wednesday.
"We are not going to be able to solve are problems if we get distracted by side shows." he added.
Obama's birth certificate [PDF]
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Trump said, "I have accomplished something nobody else has accomplished."
"I want to look at it, but I hope it's true," he added. "He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honored to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue."
Earlier Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the debate has been "really bad for the Republican Party."
The so-called "birther" debate is "good politics" but "bad for the country," said Pfeiffer.
White House spokesman Jay Carney is expected to speak more about the birth certificate Wednesday morning.
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday, Trump repeated his doubts and said he had been told the certificate was "missing."
A new CNN investigation revealed earlier this week what most analysts have been saying since the "birther" controversy erupted during the 2008 presidential campaign: Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.
While the president has made light of the controversy, the question remained political red meat for some of his critics. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showed that nearly 75% of Americans believe Obama was definitely or probably born in the United States. More than four in 10 Republicans, however, believe he probably or definitely was not born in America.
The U.S. Constitution says only "natural born" citizens can become president - a vague clause that some members of the birther movement contend disqualifies Obama because, they insist, he was born outside the United States.
Skeptics contend, among other things, that Obama was born in his father's home country of Kenya.