BACKGROUND: Two severe birth defects, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and esophageal atresia (EA) with or without tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF), have traditionally been analyzed separately in epidemiological studies. Lung hypoplasia (LH), part of the CDH spectrum, is not usually associated with EA/TEF, yet both are foregut malformations. METHODS: We conducted an epidemiological study of two combinations of the defects in the population of 3,318,966 live births and stillbirths monitored from 1983 to 1996 by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program (CBDMP). RESULTS: A total of 433 cases had a Bochdalek type CDH/LH (0.13 per 1000 births), 893 had EA/TEF (0.27 per 1000 births), and 646 had LH (0.19 per 1000 births). Among them, 18 cases had CDH/LH with EA/TEF (0.005 per 1000 births), and 53 had EA/TEF and LH (0.02 per 1000 births); both prevalences are significantly higher than expected. Sixteen of 17 cases of CDH/LH with EA/TEF, and 34 of 40 cases of EA/TEF with LH were stillborn or died; 72% and 74%, respectively, had an autopsy. The male to female sex ratios were 1.43 and 1.13, respectively. In both groups, infants had similar proportions of additional severe defects, except for genitourinary and anal defects and syndromes/associations, which were more prevalent in the EA/TEF with LH group. We reviewed human studies and experimental animal models for factors reported to cause any combination of the defects. CONCLUSIONS: Several genetic and environmental factors could affect the significant co-occurrence of the defects. Future studies should include storage of patients' biological materials for DNA analysis, karyotyping, and environmental exposure evaluation.

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Keywords Congenital diaphragmatic hernia, Esophageal atresia, Lung hypoplasia
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Journal Birth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology
van Dooren, M.F, Tibboel, D, & Torfs, C.P. (2005). The co-occurrence of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula, and lung hypoplasia. Birth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 73(1), 53–57. doi:10.1002/bdra.20098