Effect of Race on the Prevalence of Congenital Malformations among Newborns in the United States

Ethn Dis. 2015 Spring;25(2):226-31.


Background: Racial variability in certain prenatal risk factors, such as prenatal vitamin supplementation and termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly, has altered the racial prevalence of congenital malformation (CM). Analysis of a single large representative population is required to analyze current racial differences in prevalence of CM in the United States.

Method: This is a population-based cross-sectional study to analyze racial differences in prevalence of CM diagnoses. We reviewed all live births in the 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database and determined birth prevalence of 55 selected CM diagnoses in Caucasians. We then calculated the relative risk of these CM diagnoses in African American, Hispanics and Asians relative to Caucasians.

Result: Overall CM prevalence was 29.2 per 1,000 in a cohort of 1,048,252 live births of which 51% were Caucasians. Compared to Caucasian, risk of overall CM was lower in African Americans (RR = .9, CI .8-9) and Hispanics (RR = .9, CI .8-.9). Risk of overall CM was similar in Caucasians and Asians. Relative to the Caucasians, African Americans had lower risk of cardiac, genitourinary, and craniofacial malformations but higher risk of musculoskeletal malformations. Hispanics had lower risk of genitourinary and gastrointestinal malformation. Asians had higher risk of craniofacial and musculoskeletal malformation.

Conclusions: This is a comprehensive description of racial difference in risk of CM in the United States. Observed racial differences in risk of CM may be related to genetic susceptibilities, to cultural or social differences that could modify exposures, or to the many potential combinations between susceptibilities and exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Congenital Abnormalities / ethnology*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / genetics
  • Congenital Abnormalities / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*