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Gastrostomy and congenital anomalies: a European population-based study

Lay Summary

Surgical insertion of a permanent feeding tube is undertaken for children with major feeding problems and failure to thrive. The main indications for a permanent feeding tube are severe neurological disorders and congenital anomalies with severe feeding problems. Little is known about how often a permanent feeding tube is inserted.

This EUROlinkCAT study investigated the frequency of this surgery by analysing information from 91,504 children with congenital anomalies and almost 2 million children without congenital anomalies in nine regions in six European countries.

We found that 1.3% of children with congenital anomalies and 0.016% of children without congenital anomalies underwent this surgery before they were 5 years old. Amongst children under 5, more than two thirds of these surgeries were performed in children with congenital anomalies. The surgery was more frequently performed in Northern Europe (Finland, Denmark, Wales and England) than in Southern Europe (Italy and Spain).

Oesophageal atresia was the structural anomaly for which the highest proportion of children underwent this surgery (15.9%). For rare syndromes with feeding problems, around one in four children with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome underwent this surgery.

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