Increased prevalence of some birth defects in Korea, 2009–2010

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Lamichhane, Dirga Kumar; Leem, Jong-Han; Park, Myungsook; Kim, Jung Ae; Kim, Hwan Cheol; Kim, Jin Hee; Hong, Yun-Chul
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BioMed Central
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(1):61
Birth defectsPrevalenceKorea
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Birth defects are a leading cause of neonatal and infant mortality, and several studies have indicated an increase in the prevalence of birth defects; more recent investigations have suggested that the trends of some defects are increasing in rapidly industrialized areas. This study estimates the prevalence rate and types of birth defects in Korea.

This study used medical insurance benefit data of 403,250 infants aged less than one year from the National Health Insurance Corporation from seven metropolitan areas in Korea for 2009 and 2010.

The prevalence rate of birth defects was 548.3 per 10,000 births (95 % CI: 541.1–555.6), 306.8 among boys and 241.5 among girls. Anomalies of the circulatory system (particularly septal defects) were the most common (180.8 per 10,000), followed by defects of the genitourinary tract (130.1 per 10,000) (particularly obstructive genitourinary and undescended testis), musculoskeletal system (105.7 per 10,000), digestive system (24.7 per 10,000), and central nervous system (15.6 per 10,000).

Relatively higher rates of some birth defects were found in the metropolitan areas. The high differences of birth prevalences for septal heart defects and undescended testis are probably due in part to progress in clinical management and more frequent prenatal diagnosis. Environmental exposure might play a critical role in the development of some birth defects. In attempting to describe the prevalence and spatio-temporal variations of birth defects in Korea, establishment of a registry system of birth defects and environmental surveillance are needed.
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