Congenital Anomalies in Canada 2013: A Perinatal Health Surveillance Report

For the latest congenital anomalies data from the Canadian Congenital Anomalies Surveillance System, please visit:

This report provides an overview of congenital anomalies (CAs) in Canada, focusing on six important categories including: Down syndrome, neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, oral facial clefts, limb deficiency defects and gastroschisis. Each chapter presents national estimates on birth prevalence, temporal trends, as well as provincial/territorial and international comparisons. Known risk factors, prevalence-related impacts of prenatal diagnosis and preventive measures are also discussed. Further chapters also describe methods of primary and secondary prevention, in addition to management and treatment options for selected congenital anomalies.

Summary results of the report show that approximately 1 in 25 babies born in Canada is diagnosed with one or more congenital anomalies every year. Their overall national birth prevalence rate between 1998 and 2009 has decreased from 451 to 385 per 10,000 births. This is likely due to a number of factors involving: i) increased prenatal diagnosis and subsequent pregnancy termination; ii) implemented measures such as mandatory folic acid fortification in food; and iii) changes in health behaviours and practices to reduce the risk for some congenital anomalies (e.g., tobacco smoking and multivitamin use).

The report also points to maternal obesity as an important emerging risk factor for some congenital anomalies, while noting that alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy remain key risks that require ongoing public health measures for prevention and prevalence reduction.

To obtain a PDF copy of the report, please visit: Congenital Anomalies in Canada 2013 on the Government of Canada Publications website.

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