Open Access Open Badges Research article

External birth defects in southern Vietnam: a population-based study at the grassroots level of health care in Binh Thuan province

Truong Hoang14*, Dung The Nguyen1, Phuong Van Ngoc Nguyen14, Dong A Tran1, Yves Gillerot2, Raymond Reding3 and Annie Robert4

Author affiliations

1 Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medecine, 86/2 Thanh Thai Street, Ho Chi Minh City, District 10, Vietnam

2 Center for Human Genetics, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium

3 Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Clinique, Pôle de chirurgie expérimentale et transplantation (CHEX), Brussels, Belgium

4 Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Clinique, Pôle d’épidémiologie et biostatistique (EPID) and Public Health School, Brussels, Belgium

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Citation and License

BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-67

Published: 30 April 2013



There currently exists no data on birth defects from population-based studies in Vietnam. Our study's aim was to assess external birth defect (EBD) prevalence among live newborns in Binh Thuan Province in Vietnam with the help of health workers at all levels of the health system.


A 2-month training session for 452 health professionals (HP) practicing delivery care in 127 Commune Health Stations (CHS) and in 12 provincial or district hospitals (DH) was setup in 2006. After a successful 6-month pilot study, a one-year registry of EBDs was established in 2008. All live newborns were screened for EBDs within 24 hours after birth in all DH obstetric departments and in all CHSs. Trained local HPs collected information by filling out a predesigned form and by photographing the affected newborn. EBDs were coded using the International Classification of Diseases system-10, Clinical Modification. The study was repeated in 2010.


Throughout 2010, out of a total of 13,954 newborns, 84 cases with one or more EBDs were reported, representing an overall prevalence rate of 60.2 per 10,000 live births. The most common groups of EBDs were limbs (27.2/10,000), orofacial clefts (20.1/10,000) and the central nervous system (7.9/10,000).


This first population-based study in Vietnam, which required coordination efforts at the local level, provides baseline prevalences of external birth defects. Data on EBDs from this study in southern Vietnam may be useful for setting up a regional population-based registry of birth defects in Vietnam.

Birth defect; External birth defect; Population-based study; Southern of Vietnam; Live births; ICD-10; Limbs defect; Orofacial clefts