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A Population-Based Study of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in Utah: 1988–1994

Obstetrics & Gynecology: June 1996
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Objective To define the natural history of congenital dia-phragmatic hernia and to determine the potential impact of fetal therapy.

Methods This retrospective case series consisted of all fetuses and neonates with congenital diaphragmatic hernia born between 1988 and 1994 in the state of Utah that could be identified through genetic counseling referrals, delivery logs, and neonatal intensive care unit discharge diagnosis records. Maternal and neonatal hospital records were re-viewed for antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum variables. Based on existing recommendations, fetuses who might have benefited from fetal therapy were identified.

Results Ninety-six cases were identified, for a frequency of one case in 2710 live births per year. Five pregnancies were terminated before 21 weeks' gestation. The overall survival rate excluding these five cases was 58.2%. Among the remaining 91 cases, survival was significantly better for infants diagnosed in the neonatal period than for those diagnosed prenatally (78% versus 35%; P < .001). The frequency of associated anomalies was similar for anteparturn and postpartum cases. Sixty-two percent of non-survivors had some type of other anomaly, but no pattern was apparent. There were no accurate prenatal predictors for lethal pulmonary hypoplasia, but preterm birth and the presence of severe cardiac anomalies were predictors of neonatal death. Only two of 96 fetuses would have potentially benefited from fetal therapy.

Conclusion The outcome of infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia is worse with preterm birth and if diagnosed prenatally. The survival rate we found was better than that reported in earlier studies, suggesting improved perinatal and neonatal management. Fetal therapy based on current eligibility criteria would have a minimal impact on survival of fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Address reprint requests to: Donald J. Dudley, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah School of Medicine, 50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132

© 1996 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Fetal therapy for congenital diaphragmatic hernia would rarely improve neonatal outcome.