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Screening Methods for Congenital Anomalies in Low and Lower-Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review

      Highlights

      • Surgically correctable congenital anomalies represent significant morbidity and mortality in children from low-and lower-middle-income countries. Pre- and post-natal screening methods can help in decreasing this burden.
      • The most used methods include physician clinical examination, pulse oximetry and fetal ultrasound. The most feasible screening method was a birth defect picture toolkit.

      Summary

      Introduction

      Surgically correctable congenital anomalies are responsible for a significant burden of morbidity and mortality in children from low-and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs). Early identification through fetal and neonatal screening is critical to reducing death and disability. This study aims to identify feasible screening methods for surgically correctable congenital anomalies in LMICs.

      Methods

      A systematic search looking at screening for congenital anomalies in LMIC was conducted in seven databases from 2000 until May 25, 2020, with no language restriction. All articles discussing screening methods for surgically correctable congenital anomalies in LMICs were included. Articles were screened by two independent contributors using Rayyan software, with a third contributor resolving conflicts. Feasibility of the screening method and its risk of bias were assessed using the MINORS scale.

      Results

      Of 3473 articles, 24 were included in the full-text review. Nine screening methods (three prenatal and six postnatal) were identified - the most frequently utilized being physician clinical examination (45.8%), pulse oximetry (33.3%) and fetal ultrasound(20.8%). The use of a birth defect picture toolkit was the most feasible screening method. The risk of bias scale yielded an average of 11.9 points, which corresponds to a moderate level of bias.

      Conclusion

      Despite clear benefits, prenatal and neonatal screening methods are infrequently used in LMICs to identify surgically correctable congenital anomalies in neonates, likely due to financial, material, and human resource constraints. Further research into the development of low-cost feasible methods is needed within these settings.

      PROSPERO registration number

      CRD42020192051.

      Type of Study

      Systematic review.

      Level of Evidence

      IV.

      Keywords

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