European study showed that children with congenital anomalies often underwent multiple surgical procedures at different ages across Europe
Children with congenital anomalies often require surgery but data on the burden of surgery for these children are limited. This EUROlinkCAT study in Finland, Wales and regions of Denmark, England, Italy and Spain included a total of 91,504 children with congenital anomalies born in 1995-2014. The children were followed to their tenth birthday or the end of 2015. Electronic linkage to hospital databases provided data on surgical procedures performed during hospital stays and was analysed by age groups. The percentage of children with congenital anomalies having surgery in the first year was 38% with some differences across regions and 14% also underwent surgery at age 1-4 years. Regional differences in age at the time of their first surgical procedure were observed for children with cleft palate, hydronephrosis, hypospadias, clubfoot and craniosynostosis. The children had a median of 2 surgical procedures before age five years with children with oesophageal atresia having the highest median number of procedures at 4.5. Overall, a third of children with congenital anomalies required surgery during infancy and often more than one procedure was needed before age five years. There was no European consensus on the preferred age for surgery for some anomalies.