Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly after 23 weeks of gestation: a European register-based study

BJOG. 2010 May;117(6):660-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02531.x.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly (TOPFA) after 23 weeks of gestation in European countries, and describe the spectrum of anomalies for which late TOPFA is recorded.

Design: Population-based study.

Setting: Twelve European countries.

Population: Nineteen registries of congenital anomaly in 12 European countries between 2000 and 2005. The number of total births covered was 2 695 832.

Methods: TOPFAs in singleton pregnancies from the European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies and Twins (EUROCAT) database.

Main outcome measures: The prevalence of TOPFA and type of anomaly.

Results: There were 10 233 TOPFAs, 678 (6.6%) of which were performed at 24 weeks or more. The rate of TOPFA before 24 weeks was 3.4 per 1000 births, at 24-25 weeks 0.14 per 1000 births and at 26 weeks or more 0.11 per 1000 births. There was significant variation in the prevalence of TOPFA at >or=24 weeks between countries (P < 0.001), with all countries in the range 0-0.55 per 1000 births, except France (Paris) at 2.65 per 1000 births. The large majority of late TOPFAs had a gestational age of 24-27 weeks (516/678, 76%). The proportion of TOPFAs from 24 weeks or more varied by type of anomaly, with 4% of all TOPFAs for chromosomal anomalies and 9% of all TOPFAs for nonchromosomal anomalies resulting in late TOPFA (P < 0.001). For transposition of the great arteries, single ventricle, hypoplastic left heart and hydrocephaly, the percentage of late TOPFA was 12-23%. The median time interval between diagnosis and late TOPFA was 2 weeks for most anomalies, but longer (>or=5 weeks) for diaphragmatic hernia, omphalocoele, arthrogryposis multiplex and Turner's syndrome.

Conclusion: Late TOPFA is rare in Europe, and varies in prevalence between countries. Compared with earlier TOPFA, late TOPFA is more often performed for a nonchromosomal isolated major structural anomaly and less often for a fetus with a chromosomal syndrome or multiple anomalies.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetus / abnormalities*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Prevalence
  • Registries