National time trends in congenital heart defects, Denmark, 1977-2005

Am Heart J. 2009 Mar;157(3):467-473.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2008.10.017. Epub 2008 Dec 23.


Background: Time trends in congenital heart defects (CHD) by specific phenotype and with long follow-up time are rarely available for an entire population. We present trends in national CHD prevalences over the past 3 decades.

Methods: We linked information from the National Patient Register, the Causes of Death Register, and the Danish Cytogenetic Central Register for all persons born in Denmark, 1977 to 2005, and registered in the Civil Registration System, yielding a cohort of 1,763,591 persons-18,207 with CHD. Individuals with CHDs were classified by phenotype (heterotaxia, conotruncal defect, atrioventricular septal defect, anomalous pulmonary venous return, left and right ventricular outflow tract obstructions, septal defects, complex defects, associations, patent ductus arteriosus, unspecified, and other specified) by combining International Classification of Diseases codes using a hierarchical approach.

Results: From 1977 to 2005, the overall CHD birth prevalence increased from 73 to 113 per 10,000 live births. Generally, prevalence increased for defects diagnosed in infancy, until 1996-1997, and then stabilized. For each 5-year interval, isolated septal defects and severe defects increased by 22% (95% CI, 20%-25%) and 5% (95% CI, 4%-7%), respectively. Among the severe defects, conotruncal defects and atrioventricular septal defect showed the largest prevalence increases. Women had a lower prevalence of severe defects during the 1980s. The CHD prevalence increase was unchanged when persons with extracardiac defects or chromosomal aberrations were excluded.

Conclusions: CHD birth prevalence increased from the beginning of the 1980s but stabilized in the late 1990s.

MeSH terms

  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / classification
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Heart Septal Defects / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Veins / abnormalities
  • Registries
  • Ventricular Outflow Obstruction / epidemiology