Associated congenital anomalies among cases with Down syndrome

Eur J Med Genet. 2015 Dec;58(12):674-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmg.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Down syndrome (DS) is the most common congenital anomaly widely studied for at least 150 years. However, the type and the frequency of congenital anomalies associated with DS are still controversial. Despite prenatal diagnosis and elective termination of pregnancy for fetal anomalies, in Europe, from 2008 to 2012 the live birth prevalence of DS per 10,000 was 10. 2. The objectives of this study were to examine the major congenital anomalies occurring in infants and fetuses with Down syndrome. The material for this study came from 402,532 consecutive pregnancies of known outcome registered by our registry of congenital anomalies between 1979 and 2008. Four hundred sixty seven (64%) out of the 728 cases with DS registered had at least one major associated congenital anomaly. The most common associated anomalies were cardiac anomalies, 323 cases (44%), followed by digestive system anomalies, 42 cases (6%), musculoskeletal system anomalies, 35 cases (5%), urinary system anomalies, 28 cases (4%), respiratory system anomalies, 13 cases (2%), and other system anomalies, 26 cases (3.6%). Among the cases with DS with congenital heart defects, the most common cardiac anomaly was atrioventricular septal defect (30%) followed by atrial septum defect (25%), ventricular septal defect (22%), patent ductus arteriosus (5%), coarctation of aorta (5%), and tetralogy of Fallot (3%). Among the cases with DS with a digestive system anomaly recorded, duodenal atresia (67%), Hirschsprung disease (14%), and tracheo-esophageal atresia (10%) were the most common. Fourteen (2%) of the cases with DS had an obstructive anomaly of the renal pelvis, including hydronephrosis. The other most common anomalies associated with cases with DS were syndactyly, club foot, polydactyly, limb reduction, cataract, hydrocephaly, cleft palate, hypospadias and diaphragmatic hernia. Many studies to assess the anomalies associated with DS have reported various results. There is no agreement in the literature as to which associated anomalies are most common in cases with DS with associated anomalies. In this study we observed a higher percentage of associated anomalies than in the other reported series as well as an increase in the incidence of duodenal atresia, urinary system anomalies, musculoskeletal system anomalies, and respiratory system anomalies, and a decrease in the incidence of anal atresia, annular pancreas, and limb reduction defects. In conclusion, we observed a high prevalence of total congenital anomalies and specific patterns of malformations associated with Down syndrome which emphasizes the need to evaluate carefully all cases with Down syndrome for possible associated major congenital anomalies.

Keywords: Ascertainment; Congenital heart defects; Congenital heart disease; Down syndrome; Etiology; Surveillance; Trisomy 21.

MeSH terms

  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Down Syndrome / complications*
  • Down Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Registries