Birth Defects
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Birth Defects



Support World Birth Defects Day​

March 3 is World Birth Defects Day. Every year, about 8 million babies worldwide are born with a serious birth defect impacting millions of families. In Malta around 130 babies are born with birth defects of varying degrees each year.  A number of these can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles, good nutrition including an adequate intake of the vitamin folic acid and appropriate vaccination.

WorldBirth Defects Day 2022​ – Many Defects One Voice - Fact Sheet​

#WorldBDDay; #ManyBirthDefects1Voice

Contact Person: Dr. Miriam Gatt


  • To collect data about all fetal deaths and infants with a diagnosis of congenital anomalies on the islands of Malta and Gozo
  • To keep a register of all cases of congenital anomalies diagnosed until one year of age
  • To provide data which may be required for epidemiological and research studies
  • To detect any changes in occurrence of congenital anomalies
  • To issue regular reports and provide physicians and the general public with information they may need, always respecting strict confidentiality.
  • To maintain active collaboration with international organisations and networks working in the field of congenital anomalies​. 


Data on congenital anomalies diagnosed at birth at St. Luke's Hospital (Malta) was originally collected through the University of Malta between 1985 and 1996. The register became a member of EUROCAT (European Registration of Congenital Anomalies and Twins) in 1986. Funding for this project by the University of Malta ran into difficulties in 1995 and subsequently the Department of Health Information started co-ordinating all previous efforts of recording congenital anomalies. A population based Malta Congenital Anomalies Register was established by DHI as of January 1997. This register now covers births from all hospitals on the Maltese Islands and includes all cases suspected or diagnosed with a congenital anomaly until one year of age. This register still actively collaborates with EUROCAT and also became a member of the ICBDSR (International Clearinghouse of Birth Defects Surveillance and Research) in 2000.


The register is population based and includes all births on the islands of Malta and Gozo which amount to around 4000  births per year. The small size and population of the islands (area: 316 km2; population: 404,962); the well defined boundaries, absence of significant ethnic minority groups and illegality of termination of pregnancy make the islands ideal for epidemiological studies.


Congenital Anomalies, for the purposes of the register, are defined as 'structural, functional, metabolic, behavioural and hereditary defects present at birth'.
Data collection occurs on both a passive and active basis. On a passive basis, paediatricians and private hospitals are asked to report any newly diagnosed cases of congenital anomalies. On an active basis, members of the staff of the Department of Health Information visit Mater Dei Hospital obstetric, paediatric and echocardiography units to collect data directly and review patient notes.
The hospitals presently involved in data capture are Mater Dei Hospital (MDH), Gozo General Hospital (GGH), St. James Hospital, Sliema and Zabbar.
Several Sources of data are used to ensure as complete a coverage as possible. Present sources of data from Mater Dei Hospital are: Doctor's notifications,  notifications from the delivery units, obstetric wards, neonatal and paediatric intensive care units (NICU/PICU), Echocardiography Lab., Genetics Clinic, National Ostetrics Information System (NOIS), Hospital Activity Analysis Register, Mortality Register, Pathology Autopsy reports, and Hypothyroid screening programmes.
The registry keeps named records in order to: link reports arriving from several sources, and so avoid duplicate registration; allow the follow up of cases to confirm, update the diagnosis and to study the outcome of malformed children; and trace the cases in order to conduct prospective or retrospective aetiological studies.

Patient Hospital files are reviewed whenever possible to validate and ensure accuracy of registrations. Strict confidentiality is respected at all times.


Unless otherwise stated all documents are in PDF format.
Downloadable copy of Report Form for notifying congenital anomalies


The Malta Congenital Anomalies Register has been a member of the European Registration of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT) since 1986. In ​ September 2000 it was accepted as a Member of the International Clearinghouse of Births Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR).


As of 2004 the Malta Congenital Anomalies Register has presented its data in the form of regularly updated tables which can be found in the 'Summary Statistics' section below. Annual and half yearly reports published before 2004 can be downloaded in pdf format on our Archive page.


Publications in peer reviewed Journals in which Malta Registry Data was used. 

International Publications


​Gatt, M., England, K., Grech, V,. & Calleja, N. (2015).  Contribution of Congenital Anomalies to Neonatal Mortality Rates in Malta, Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 29(5), 401- 406.

Abstract available here​, full text available on request.


Abstracts of the Scientific Symposium of the ICBDSR - "Evaluation of Medications as Teratogens" - Malta September 2005 
All Abstracts - 2005​ ​

Geographical Distribution of Congenital Anomalies in Malta & Gozo 1993-2004 (November 2006)​


Please link to the EUROCAT site for interactive online comparison of Malta data with other European Registries.



The Malta Congenital Anomalies Registry collects and processes personal information regarding congenital anomalies for statistical and research purposes and in the interests of public health. All data is collected and processed in accordance to the Data Protection Act (Malta, 2001). The Registry does not disclose identifiable data outside the Health Division unless the law permits it. All individuals are entitled to know what information the Registry holds about themselves.