An epidemiologic study of neural tube defects in Los Angeles County I. Prevalence at birth based on multiple sources of case ascertainment



Epidemiologic studies of the neural tube defects (NTDs), anencephalus and spina bifida, have for the most part been based on single sources of case ascertainment in past studies. The present investigation attempts total ascertainment of NTD cases in the newborn population of Los Angeles County residents for the period 1966–1972. Design of the study, sources of data, and estimates of prevalence rates based on single and multiple sources of case ascertainment are here discussed. Anencephalus cases totaled 448, spina bifida 442, and encephalocele 72, giving prevalence rates of 0.52, 0.51, and 0.08 per 1000 total births, respectively, for these neural tube defects–rates considered to be low. The Los Angeles County prevalence rates are compared with those of other recent North American studies and support is provided for earlier suggestions of low rates on the West Coast.