Texas shares a 1255-miles border with Mexico and encompasses a variety of ecosystems, industries and other potential environmental exposures. The Texas Birth Defects Registry is an active surveillance system which covers all pregnancy outcomes (livebirths, fetal deaths and elective pregnancy terminations). This study describes the occurrence and the predictors of neural tube defects (anencephaly and spina bifida) in Texas between 1999 and 2003. Birth prevalence, crude and adjusted prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Poisson regression, for each defect, by fetal/infant sex, delivery year and maternal sociodemographic characteristics.
Among approximately 1.8 million livebirths, a total of 1157 neural tube defects cases were ascertained by the Registry, resulting in an overall prevalence of 6.33 cases per 10 000 livebirths. The prevalences of anencephaly and spina bifida were 2.81 and 3.52 per 10 000 livebirths respectively. Prevalences of both defects were highest in Hispanics, among mothers living along the border with Mexico, among women of higher parity and among mothers who were 40+ years of age. In addition, the prevalence of each defect was higher among women with no record of prenatal care and among women with less than 7 years of education. Hispanic ethnicity was an important predictor for anencephaly, along with sex, maternal age, parity and border residence. However, only border residence and delivery year were significant predictors for spina bifida.