Abdominal Wall Defects in Greenland 1989–2015

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Background: In the last decades, an increasing rate of gastroschisis but not of omphalocele has been reported worldwide. Greenland is the world's largest island, but 80% is covered by an ice cap, it has a small population of around 56,000 peoples (as of 2016). The occurrence of abdominal wall defects has never been investigated in Greenland. 

Methods: The present study is based on data retrieved from three nationwide and two local registries in the Greenlandic health care system over 27 years (1989–2015). 

Results: We identified 33 infants with abdominal wall defects born in the study time period. All cases were reclassified to 28 cases of gastroschisis, four cases of omphalocele, and there was 1 infant in the indeterminate group. The point prevalence at birth for gastroschisis increased significantly from 8 to 35 (average 10.7) per 10,000 liveborn and -stillborn infants. Mothers below 20 years of age represented 23% of all cases and the prevalence for this group was 17 per 10,000 liveborn and stillborn. Perinatal mortality for infants with gastroschisis was high (18%), and 1 year survival was 71%. For omphalocele, the prevalence varied from 8 to 11 per 10,000 liveborn and stillborn infants. There was no increasing rate in the period, further highlighting an etiological difference between gastroschisis and omphalocele. 

Conclusion: This study confirms the increasing prevalence of gastroschisis in Greenland in the period from 1989 to 2015. The average was 10.7 per 10,000 liveborn and -stillborn infants and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the highest prevalence ever reported. Birth Defects Research 109:836–842, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBirth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)836-842
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • abdominal wall defects, gastroschisis, Greenland, omphalocele

ID: 183580640