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Hum Reprod. 2007 Feb;22(2):516-20. Epub 2006 Oct 4.

Practitioner reporting of birth defects in children born following assisted reproductive technology: Does it still have a role in surveillance of birth defects?

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  • 1Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Subiaco, Australia.



National assisted reproductive technology (ART) data collections that rely on practitioners' reports of birth defects have consistently reported lower proportions of children with birth defects than record linkage studies that link ART infants to birth and malformation registers.


We compared the birth defect data reported to the national Australian Assisted Conception Data Collection (ACDC) by practitioners at three Western Australian ART clinics with the birth defect data identified on the Western Australian Birth Defects Registry (WABDR) through record linkage of all the pregnancies conceived at these clinics to the WABDR. Cases are reported to the WABDR by multiple statutory and voluntary sources.


We found that the national ACDC significantly underestimated the prevalence of birth defects in WA-born ART infants. Less than one-third of ART children identified with a major birth defect on the WABDR were reported to the ACDC.


Although national ART data collections provide valuable information on pregnancy rates and short-term pregnancy outcomes such as multiple birth and birth weight, we strongly recommend that birth defect information used for patient counselling is preferentially drawn from large studies that have used record linkage to high-quality birth defect registers.

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