Paper 2: EUROCAT public health indicators for congenital anomalies in Europe

Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Mar;91 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S16-22. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20776. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to present the specific public health indicators recently developed by EUROCAT that aim to summarize important aspects of the public health impact of congenital anomalies in a few quantitative measures.

Methods: The six indicators are: (1) congenital anomaly perinatal mortality, (2) congenital anomaly prenatal diagnosis prevalence, (3) congenital anomaly termination of pregnancy, (4) Down syndrome livebirth prevalence, (5) congenital anomaly pediatric surgery, and (6) neural tube defects (NTD) total prevalence. Data presented for this report pertained to all cases (livebirths, fetal deaths, or stillbirths after 20 weeks of gestation and terminations of pregnancy for fetal anomaly [TOPFA]) of congenital anomaly from 27 full member registries of EUROCAT that could provide data for at least 3 years during the period 2004 to 2008. Prevalence of anomalies, prenatal diagnosis, TOPFA, pediatric surgery, and perinatal mortality were calculated per 1000 births.

Results: The overall perinatal mortality was approximately 1.0 per 1000 births for EUROCAT registries with almost half due to fetal and the other half due to first week deaths. There were wide variations in perinatal mortality across the registries with the highest rates observed in Dublin and Malta, registries in countries where TOPFA are illegal, and in Ukraine. The overall perinatal mortality across EUROCAT registries slightly decreased between 2004 and 2008 due to a decrease in first week deaths. The prevalence of TOPFA was fairly stable at about 4 per 1000 births. There were variations in livebirth prevalence of cases typically requiring surgery across the registries; however, for most registries this prevalence was between 3 and 5 per 1000 births. Prevalence of NTD decreased by about 10% from 1.05 in 2004 to 0.94 per 1000 in 2008.

Conclusion: It is hoped that by publishing the data on EUROCAT indicators, the public health importance of congenital anomalies can be clearly summarized to policy makers, the need for accurate data from registries emphasized, the need for primary prevention and treatment services highlighted, and the impact of current services measured.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Eugenic
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / surgery
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Malta / epidemiology
  • Neural Tube Defects / epidemiology
  • Perinatal Mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Public Health*
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology
  • Ukraine / epidemiology