Birth defects in Tarnaveni area, Romania – preliminary study results
Background and aims. In the development of any human body, defects may occur, resulting in the occurrence of congenital malformations, also referred to as birth defects. The aim of this preliminary study was to assess the prevalence of birth defects registered during a period of 5 years in Tarnaveni area. As Tarnaveni is located in close proximity to a former chemical plant, a recognized hazardous waste site, we conducted this pilot study to assess the prevalence of birth defects, in order to evaluate the need for a more comprehensive investigation of a potential relation between the exposure to toxic metals contaminating the environmental media as a result of the past industrial activities, and the prevalence of the birth defects in this area.
Methods. We abstracted birth information (gestational age at delivery (GA), birth weight (BW), birth length (BL), head circumference (HC), and major structural birth defects), from medical records at “Dr. Gheorghe Marinescu“ Tarnaveni Municipal Hospital, of the 2010-2014 period. We expressed BW as Z-scores relative to expected mean values at each gestational age for a reference population, calculated the ponderal index, and determined the 5 years birth defects prevalence among live births during the study interval.
Results. The 5 years (2010-2014) prevalence of birth defects, was 3.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.47, 4.09). There were n = 163 (8.7%) preterm deliveries (less than 37 weeks of gestation at delivery), mean birth weight was 3108.3 g (standard deviation (SD) = 517.1), ranging from 450–4600 g, and n = 187 (10%) were low birth weight (LBW) (less than 2500 g). The ponderal index was 2.2 g/cm3 on average (SD = 0.5), with range 1.2–20.7 g/cm3.
Conclusions. While preliminary, our data show a 5 years (2010-2014) prevalence of major structural birth defects among newborns from Tarnaveni area of 3.3%. These pilot results indicate the need for a more comprehensive investigation of a potential relation between the exposure to toxic metals contaminating the environmental media as a result of the past industrial activities and the prevalence of the birth defects in Tarnaveni area.