To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the tables published on pages 26 and 32–33 of HC 624, for what percentage of live births in
health authorities which has existed since 1926. The local health authorities extract from the birth notifications details of babies born with malformations. This information is commonly supplemented with details obtained from midwives, hospitals, doctors and health visitors. The purpose of this system is primarily to detect changes in the frequency of reporting any particular malformation or group of malformations rather than trying to estimate prevalence at birth. Only malformations detected at or within 10 days of birth are currently included in the system, to ensure rapid reporting and thus fast detection of any increase in reporting levels. The system does however provide the most extensive data on prevalance levels available in England and Wales.
Prior to 1990 all malformations, however minor, were reportable to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS). In January 1990 an exclusion list was introduced describing the minor anomalies which should no longer be notified. Therefore data are riot comparable for the period before 1990 and for 1990 onwards.
For more information on congenital malformations refer to OPCS publication, series MB3, copies of which are available in the Library.