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BACKGROUND: Congenital anomalies are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. We aimed to review the common surgically correctable congenital anomalies with recent updates on the global disease burden and identify the factors affecting morbidity and mortality. METHOD: A literature review was done to assess the burden of surgical congenital anomalies with emphasis on those that present within the first 8000 days of life. The various patterns of diseases were analyzed in both low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and high-income countries (HIC). RESULTS: Surgical problems such as digestive congenital anomalies, congenital heart disease and neural tube defects are now seen more frequently. The burden of disease weighs more heavily on LMIC. Cleft lip and palate has gained attention and appropriate treatment within many countries, and its care has been strengthened by global surgical partnerships. Antenatal scans and timely diagnosis are important factors affecting morbidity and mortality. The frequency of pregnancy termination following prenatal diagnosis of a congenital anomaly is lower in many LMIC than in HIC. CONCLUSION: Congenital heart disease and neural tube defects are the most common congenital surgical diseases; however, easily treatable gastrointestinal anomalies are underdiagnosed due to the invisible nature of the condition. Current healthcare systems in most LMICs are still unprepared to tackle the burden of disease caused by congenital anomalies. Increased investment in surgical services is needed.

Original publication




Journal article


World J Surg

Publication Date





3408 - 3418


Female, Humans, Pregnancy, Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, Heart Defects, Congenital, Neural Tube Defects, Morbidity, Congenital Abnormalities