Prevalence and Trends of Congenital Heart Defects among Live Births from 2005 to 2014 in Northern Ireland

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Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most frequent group of congenital anomalies representing a significant burden of mortality and morbidity and health service load. In the Northern Ireland population, served by a single paediatric cardiology centre, we determine the prevalence and trends of CHD among live births. This is a descriptive cross-sectional population-based study, using the paediatric cardiology database. The study included a total of 245,120 live births representing all children born in Northern Ireland 2005-2014. A total of 11,410 children (4.65% of live births in Northern Ireland) received an echocardiogram for suspected CHD, and 3,059 children were subsequently diagnosed with a major CHD (prevalence = 12.48 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 12.04-12.93)) of whom 490 (16.02%) had genetic or chromosomal disorders including Down syndrome. The prevalence of non-genetic or chromosomal cases was 10.48 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 10.08-10.89) and did not change significantly over time (p = 0.91). The prevalence of CHD diagnosed in the first year of life was 8.46 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 8.10-8.83), which increased over time (p < 0.01). The prevalence of severe CHD was 2.02 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 1.85-2.21). Northern Ireland has a high prevalence of CHD among European countries, which may be associated with complete ascertainment of both early and late diagnosed cases recorded in the paediatric cardiology database, as well as being one of the few European countries where terminations of pregnancy for foetal anomaly was illegal during the study period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalCardiology in the Young
Early online date15 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 15 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

The study was funded by Vice-Chancellor's Research Scholarship Ulster University. Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke covered the costs of data preparation carried out by Honest Broker Service.


  • Congenital heart defects
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Northern Ireland
  • prevalence
  • population-based study
  • trends


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