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Anencephalus in Belfast and Dublin

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The inoidence of anencephalus, the most common major central nervous system malformation occurring in all births in Ireland at present has been estimated from series of teaching hospital deliveries observed during 1950–65 to be 6.2 in Belfast and 5.3 per 1,000 total births in Dublin. These figures were calculated to be about 50 per cent above the true incidence rates based on all births occurring in the related populations. The long term secular variations indicated maximal rates in 1960–61 and an increase in frequency in both cities.

The associations of selected social and biological factors with anencephalus in Belfast and Dublin were significantly different for the sex ratios and mean maternal ages but not with regard to birth rank. Within the British Isles, areas of high incidence corresponded to areas having high proportions of their population of Irish or Celtic origin. The concept of a racial threshold limiting the manifestation of anencephalus was put forward and the effects of environment on this mechanism discussed.

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Elwood, J.H., Warnock, H.A. Anencephalus in Belfast and Dublin. I. J. Med. Sc. 2, 17–25 (1969). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02954668

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