BMJ Publishing Group
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Background Congenital anomalies (CAs) are a common cause of infant death and disability. We linked children from a large birth cohort to a routine primary care database to detect CA diagnoses from birth to age 5 years. There could be evidence of underreporting by CA registries as they estimate that only 2% of CA registrations occur after age 1 year.
Methods CA cases were identified by linking children from a prospective birth cohort to primary care records. CAs were classified according to the European Surveillance of CA guidelines. We calculated rates of CAs by using a bodily system group for children aged 0 toyears, together with risk ratios (RRs) with 95% CIs for maternal risk factors.
Results Routinely collected primary care data increased the ascertainment of children with CAs from 432.9 per 10 000 live births under 1 year to 620.6 per 10 000 live births under 5 years. Consanguinity was a risk factor for Pakistani mothers (multivariable RR 1.87, 95% CI 1.46 to 2.83), and maternal age >34 years was a risk factor for mothers of other ethnicities (multivariable RR 2.19, 95% CI 1.36 to 3.54). Education was associated with a lower risk (multivariable RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.98).
Conclusion 98% of UK CA registrations relate to diagnoses made in the first year of life. Our data suggest that this leads to incomplete case ascertainment with a further 30% identified after age 1 year in our study. Risk factors for CAs identified up to age 1 year persist up to 5 years. National registries should consider using routine data linkage to provide more complete case ascertainment after infancy.
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