Background: Surgical congenital malformations of the central nervous system (CNS) are structural defects with potential for morbidity and mortality more so if intervention is delayed.
Aim: To determine the frequency and pattern of surgical CNS anomalies in our region.
Methods: We carried out a hospital-based prospective observational study of all consecutive children who presented to our unit over a 2-year period. Brain computerised tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging was performed on all patients suspected of having cranial CNS abnormalities.
Results: There were 94 children with surgical congenital anomalies of the CNS during the study period, with a male to female ratio of 1:1.1. There was no parental consanguinity in all the cases neither were there any history of preconception use of folic acid in all the mothers of the patients. Prenatal ultrasound was done after the first trimester in 91 cases (97%), but anomaly was noted in only 23 cases (25.3%). Eighty-six percent of the patients presented after the first month of life. Though there was a general delay in presentation, patients with neural tube defect tended to present much earlier compared to others (p = 0.005). Likewise, patients with spinal anomalies tend to be seen much earlier.
Conclusions: Late presentation of CNS anomalies is still the norm in our region. The result makes a case for an aggressive approach to periconceptional folic acid supplementation for our women and policy to encourage fortification of a staple food with folic acid. A nationwide effort to fully clarify the epidemiology is needed so as to indicate where the community and governmental resources, including educational efforts should be directed.