Background: In 2004 the Danish National Board of Health changed its screening recommendations. A first trimester screening for Down's syndrome and a prenatal ultrasound screening for congenital anomalies in the second trimester was now offered to all pregnant women. The aim of this study was to describe the development in prenatal diagnosis of congenital anomalies in live born infants over the past 30 years.
Methods: The study was based on data from the EUROCAT Registry for Funen County and included all live births with a prenatal diagnosis of a congenital anomaly. Data were compared over four periods of time (1980-89, 1990-99, 2000-04, and 2005-09).
Results: The types of congenital anomalies among live births with a prenatal diagnosis changed significantly. Infants with less severe anomalies accounted for 69% of the total number of live births with prenatal diagnoses in 2005-09 while the same group in 1990-99 only accounted for 35% (p<0.001). Two fetuses were diagnosed prenatally with clubfoot in 2000-04 and one with cleft lip, while the numbers in 2005-09 was 12 and 14 respectively. Number of infants born in 2005-09 with a prenatal diagnosis of hydronephrosis tripled since the 90s.
Conclusion: After the change in the prenatal screening programme in Denmark, an increasing number of pregnant women go through the second half of pregnancy knowing that their fetus has a less severe congenital anomaly, which may require treatment postnatally. Knowledge of the psychological impact, both positive and negative, for the parents is very limited.
Keywords: Prenatal ultrasound screening, prenatal diagnosis, congenital anomalies, psychological impact