The Prevalence of Congenital Anomalies in Europe
EUROCAT (European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies) is the network of population-based registers of congenital anomaly in Europe, with a common protocol and data quality review, covering 1.5 million annual births in 22 countries. EUROCAT recorded a total prevalence of major congenital anomalies of 23.9 per 1,000 births for 2003-2007. 80% were livebirths. 2.5% of livebirths with congenital anomaly died in the first week of life. 2.0% were stillbirths or fetal deaths from 20 weeks gestation. 17.6% of all cases were terminations of pregnancy following prenatal diagnosis (TOPFA). Thus, congenital anomalies overwhelmingly concern children surviving the early neonatal period, who have important medical, social or educational needs. The prevalence of chromosomal anomalies was 3.6 per 1,000 births, contributing 28% of stillbirths/fetal deaths from 20 weeks gestation with congenital anomaly, and 48% of all TOPFA. Congenital heart defects (CHD) were the most common non-chromosomal subgroup, at 6.5 per 1,000 births, followed by limb defects (3.8 per 1,000), anomalies of urinary system (3.1 per 1,000) and nervous system defects (2.3 per 1,000). In 2004, perinatal mortality associated with congenital anomaly was 0.93 per 1,000 births, and TOPFA 4.4 per 1,000 births, with considerable country variation. Primary prevention of congenital anomalies in the population based on controlling environmental risk factors is a crucial policy priority, including preconceptional care and whole population approaches.
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