Prevalence of birth defects in an Arctic Russian setting from 1973 to 2011: a register-based study
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BACKGROUND: Birth defects (BD) constitute an important public health issue as they are the main cause of infant death. Their prevalence in Europe for 2008-2012 was 25.6 per 1000 newborns. To date, there are no population-based studies for the Russian Federation. The aim of the present study is to estimate the prevalence of BD, its forms, and changes over time in the Russian Arctic city of Monchegorsk (Murmansk County) for the period 1973-2011. METHODS: The Murmansk County Birth Register and the Kola Birth Register were the primary sources of information, covering 30448 pregnancy outcomes in Monchegorsk (Murmansk County, Russia) during the study period. RESULTS: The total perinatal prevalence of BD was 36.1/1000 live births (LB) and stillborn (SB) (95% CI = 34.0-38.2). After exclusions of minor malformations according to the European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies guidelines, it decreased to 26.5/1000 LB plus SB (95% CI = 24.6-28.3). The perinatal prevalence of BD that are obligatory to report in Russia was 7.3/1000 LB plus SB (95% CI = 6.4-8.3). There was a significant positive time-trend in total perinatal prevalence of birth defects across the study period (p < 0.001 for trend). Prevalence of all BD increased from 23.5/1000 to 46.3/1000 (LB plus SB), while that excluding minor defects rose from 17.7/1000 to 35.7/1000 (LB plus SB). The most prevalent group of defects was malformations of the musculoskeletal system, which represented 35.4% of all BD. The most prominent increase was observed for the urinary system, rising from 0.2/1000 to 19.1/1000 (LB plus SB). CONCLUSIONS: The observed perinatal prevalence of BD in Monchegorsk increased two-fold during the 38-year study period. Further investigations to identify the underlying bases for the observed progressive growth in BD are recommended.
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