Congenital anomalies, also known as birth defects, are structural or functional abnormalities, including metabolic disorders, which are present from birth. Congenital anomalies are a diverse group of disorders of prenatal origin, which can be caused by single gene defects, chromosomal disorders, multifactorial inheritance, environmental teratogens or micronutrient malnutrition.
This manual is intended to serve as a tool for the development, implementation and ongoing improvement of a congenital anomalies surveillance programme, particularly for countries with limited resources. The focus of the manual is on population-based and hospital-based surveillance programmes. Some countries may not find it feasible to begin with the development of a population-based programme. Therefore, the manual covers the methodology needed for the development of both population-based and hospital-based surveillance programmes. Further, although many births in predominantly low- and middle-income countries occur outside of hospitals, some countries with limited resources may choose to start with a hospital-based surveillance programme and expand it later into one that is population based. Any country wishing to expand its current hospital-based programme into a population-based programme, or to begin the initial development of a population-based system, should find this manual helpful in reaching its goal.
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