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Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2007 Jul;21(4):363-9.

Increasing prevalence of gastroschisis in Europe 1980-2002: a phenomenon restricted to younger mothers?

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  • 1University of Ulster, Belfast, UK.


Gastroschisis is an abdominal wall defect more prevalent in offspring of young mothers. It is known to be increasing in prevalence despite the general decrease in the proportion of births to young European women. We investigated whether the increase in prevalence was restricted to the high-risk younger mothers. We analysed 936 cases of gastroschisis from 25 population-based registries in 15 European countries, 1980-2002. We fitted a Bayesian Hierarchical Model which allowed us to estimate trend, to estimate which registries were significantly different from the common distribution, and to adjust simultaneously for maternal age, time (in grouped years) and the random variation between registries. The maternal age-standardised prevalence (standardised to the year 2000 European maternal age structure) increased almost fourfold from 0.54 [95% Credible Interval (CrI) 0.37, 0.75] per 10,000 births in 1980-84 to 2.12 [95% CrI 1.85, 2.40] per 10,000 births in 2000-02. The relative risk of gastroschisis for mothers <20 years of age in 1995-2002 was 7.0 [95% CrI 5.6, 8.7]. There were geographical differences within Europe, with higher rates of gastroschisis in the UK, and lower rates in Italy after adjusting for maternal age. After standardising for regional variation, our results showed that the increase in risk over time was the same for mothers of all ages--the increase for mothers <20 years was 3.96-fold compared with an increase of 3.95-fold for mothers in the other age groups. These findings indicate that the phenomenon of increasing gastroschisis prevalence is not restricted to younger mothers only.

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