EUROCAT: 25 years of European surveillance of congenital anomalies
- Correspondence to:
EUROCAT Project Leader, Epidemiology and Health Services Research, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Shore Rd, Newtownabbey BT37 OQB, UK;
- Accepted 17 May 2005
The surveillance of congenital anomalies serves two main purposes: to facilitate the identification of teratogenic (malformation causing) exposures and to assess the impact of primary prevention and prenatal screening policy and practice at a population level. EUROCAT, the European network of population based registers for the epidemiological surveillance of congenital anomalies, now covers 1.2 million births per year, a quarter of births in Europe. The added value of European collaboration is particularly great for congenital anomalies, coming from the opportunity to pool data, to compare data between regions and countries, to give a common response to European public health questions, and to share expertise and resources, including computing tools. EUROCAT provides essential epidemiological information on congenital anomalies in Europe, facilitates the early warning of teratogenic exposures, evaluates the effectiveness of primary prevention, assesses the impact of developments in prenatal screening, acts as an information and resource centre regarding clusters, provides a ready collaborative network and infrastructure for research, and acts as a catalyst for the setting up of registries throughout Europe.
Competing interests: none declared