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Int J Circumpolar Health. 2009 Dec;68(5):443-58.

The current state of birth outcome and birth defect surveillance in northern regions of the world.

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University of British Columbia, Department of Medical Genetics, Island Medical Program, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, CANADA.



Little is known about the rates of congenital anomalies in the northernmost regions of the world. As in other parts of the world, it is crucial to assess the relative rates and trends of adverse birth outcomes and birth defects, as indicators of population health and to develop public health strategies for prevention. The aim of this review is to catalogue existing and developing birth outcome and birth defect surveillance within and around the geographic jurisdiction of the International Union of Circumpolar Health (IUCH).


Descriptive study.


The representatives of the IUCH Birth Defects Working Group catalogued existing and developing birth and birth defect surveillance systems and the extent of information they contain to determine inter-regional comparability.


Systematic population-based registration of birth outcomes including birth defects occurs to some degree in all circumpolar countries, but the quality of collection and the coverage in northernmost regions vary. There are limited circumpolar jurisdictions with surveillance systems collecting birth defect information beyond the perinatal period. Efforts are underway in Canada and Russia to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the information collected in the northern regions.


Although there is variability in the comprehensiveness of information collected in northern jurisdictions limiting sophisticated comparative analyses between regions, there is untapped potential for baseline analyses of specific risks and outcomes that could provide insight into geographic differences and gaps in surveillance that could be improved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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