Exploration of spatial patterns of congenital anomalies in Los Angeles County using the vital statistics birth master file
Research has shown linkages between environmental exposures and population health metrics such as low birth weight and incidence of congenital anomalies. While the exact causal relationship between specific environmental teratogens and suspected corresponding congenital anomalies has largely not been established, spatial analysis of anomaly incidence can identify potential locations of increased risk. This study uses the Vital Statistics Birth Master File to map and analyze the rates of congenital anomalies of births from non-smoking mothers 15–35 years old within Los Angeles County. Hot spot analysis shows that the distribution of congenital anomalies is not randomly distributed throughout the county and identified the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Foothills as two areas with elevated incidence rates. These results are not explained by potential confounders such as maternal age, race, smoking status, or socioeconomic status and seem to correlate well with the concentration of atmospheric ozone. This approach demonstrates the value of using spatial techniques to inform future research efforts and the need to establish and maintain a comprehensive reproductive health surveillance system.
KeywordsHot spot analysis Congenital anomalies Environmental exposures Health surveillance
This study was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Executive Advisory Board of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center.
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