Trends in congenital anomalies in Europe from 1980 to 2012
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Background: Surveillance of congenital anomalies is important to identify potential teratogens.
Methods: This study analysed the prevalence of 61 congenital anomaly subgroups (excluding chromosomal) in 25 population-based EUROCAT registries (1980–2012). Live births, fetal deaths and terminations of pregnancy for fetal anomaly were analysed with multilevel random-effects Poisson regression models.
Results: Seventeen anomaly subgroups had statistically significant trends from 2003–2012; 12 increasing and 5 decreasing.
Conclusions: The annual increasing prevalence of severe congenital heart defects, single ventricle, atrioventricular septal defects and tetralogy of Fallot of 1.4% (95% CI: 0.7% to 2.0%), 4.6% (1.0% to 8.2%), 3.4% (1.3% to 5.5%) and 4.1% (2.4% to 5.7%) respectively may reflect increases in maternal obesity and diabetes (known risk factors). The increased prevalence of cystic adenomatous malformation of the lung [6.5% (3.5% to 9.4%)] and decreased prevalence of limb reduction defects [-2.8% (-4.2% to -1.5%)] are unexplained. For renal dysplasia and maternal infections, increasing trends may be explained by increased screening, and deceases in patent ductus arteriosus at term and increases in craniosynostosis, by improved follow up period after birth and improved diagnosis. For oesophageal atresia, duodenal atresia/stenosis and ano-rectal atresia/stenosis recent changes in prevalence appeared incidental when compared with larger long term fluctuations. For microcephaly and congenital hydronephrosis trends could not be interpreted due to discrepancies in diagnostic criteria. The trends for club foot and syndactyly disappeared once registries with disparate results were excluded. No decrease in neural tube defects was detected, despite efforts at prevention through folic acid supplementation.