Ethnic differences in the prevalence of anencephaly and sina bifida in Boston, Massachusetts.

L. Naggan, B. MacMahon

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because of the large Irish population, a group with high prevalence rates of anencephaly and spina bifida, and the small Jewish population, a group with very low prevalences of these anomalies, cases of anencephaly and spina bifida born in 1 of 4 Boston maternity hospitals were compared with a systematic 1 in 300 sample of all births in the same facilities. Estimates of prevalence were made according to ethnic group, socioeconomic status, and parity. As expected, Irish offspring showed high rates (3.1 per 1000 births) of prevalence for these congenital defects, and these rates did not change in degree if the investigation was restricted to mother only, father only, or both parents Irish heritage. If mothers were born in Ireland, however, the prevalence rate was 4.9/1000. Offspring of Jewish mothers had the lowest rates of any ethnic group examined (Protestant, Irish Catholic, Roman Catholic, and other religions), .77/1000. However, in the highest economic classes, differences between the 3 major religions were not significant. Other ancestories showed the following prevalences: Italian, 1.09; Canadian, 3.18; English, 1.49; and other U.S., 2.58. Overall in Massachusetts the rate was 3.11. Prevalence rates increased dramatically with increasing socioeconomic status. Association with parity was also noticed; parity and ehtnic group were independent associations, as were ethnic and socioeconomic class.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1123
Number of pages5
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1967
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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