Objectives: To examine racial/ethnic-specific survival of children with major birth defects in the US.
Study design: We pooled data on live births delivered during 1999-2007 with any of 21 birth defects from 12 population-based birth defects surveillance programs. We used the Kaplan-Meier method to calculate cumulative survival probabilities and Cox proportional hazards models to estimate mortality risk.
Results: For most birth defects, there were small-to-moderate differences in neonatal (<28 days) survival among racial/ethnic groups. However, compared with children born to non-Hispanic white mothers, postneonatal infant (28 days to <1 year) mortality risk was significantly greater among children born to non-Hispanic black mothers for 13 of 21 defects (hazard ratios [HRs] 1.3-2.8) and among children born to Hispanic mothers for 10 of 21 defects (HRs 1.3-1.7). Compared with children born to non-Hispanic white mothers, a significantly increased childhood (≤ 8 years) mortality risk was found among children born to Asian/Pacific Islander mothers for encephalocele (HR 2.6), tetralogy of Fallot, and atrioventricular septal defect (HRs 1.6-1.8) and among children born to American Indian/Alaska Native mothers for encephalocele (HR 2.8), whereas a significantly decreased childhood mortality risk was found among children born to Asian/Pacific Islander mothers for cleft lip with or without cleft palate (HR 0.6).
Conclusion: Children with birth defects born to non-Hispanic black and Hispanic mothers carry a greater risk of mortality well into childhood, especially children with congenital heart defect. Understanding survival differences among racial/ethnic groups provides important information for policy development and service planning.
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