The seasonal prevalence of major congenital malformations was studied in a prospective survey of 88,449 children born in the circumscribed Fylde of Lancashire to residents there over 25 years. Ascertainment was thought to be as complete as was practically possible because cases were recorded daily by one, and for 17 years the only, paediatrician and a very high rate of necropsies was maintained. The number of malformations were classified by month of maternal last menstrual period and seasonal variation was assessed by three statistical models. Neural tube defects showed a significant seasonal variation in month of last menstrual period but not in month of birth. From May 1956 to April 1968, when the prevalence of neural tube defects was high (5.5 per 1000 total births), conceptions were significantly more common in December to May. For anencephaly alone the figures were not significant, but spina bifida and cranium bifidum were more common in March to May. From May 1968 to April 1981, when the prevalence of neural tube defects fell below the national average, the significant variations disappeared. Seasonality for spina bifida and cranium bifidum was seen only in "singles" (cases with no other major lesion), but for anencephaly it was seen only in "multiples" (cases with other lesions). The three types of cardiac septal defect and persistent ductus each showed a higher prevalence of conceptions at some time during May to October. In contrast the commonest group of cyanotic cases showed no such pattern but with greater numbers in winter. There was evidence of a seasonal variation for bilateral renal agenesis and for vesicoureteric reflux as ascertained. Seasonal prevalence in an aetiological factor for certain malformations of the central nervous system, cardiac and urinary systems.
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