There are unique circumstances and challenges to assessing and addressing the rates of congenital anomalies and other pregnancy outcomes in circumpolar regions. Birth and malformation registers have been lacking, but the situation is improving. But still there are regions without population-based registers.

The Working group has published an article describing the situation in detail: Arbour L, Melnikov V, McIntosh S, Olsen B, Osborne G, Vaktskjold A. The current state of birth outcome and birth defect surveillance in northern regions of the world. Int J Circumpolar Health 2009; 68(5).

Congenital anomalies occur in all ethnic groups and geographical regions remaining an important world-wide cause of perinatal mortality and infant and child morbidity. An excess of health care expenditure is allocated to the care of those affected. This is especially true when those affected live in remote geographical locations, especially the circumpolar regions of the world. A large challenge in the circumpolar region is that there is rarely an ability to determine the true rates in ways that are comparable to other populations. Although the causes of birth defects are multifactorial, including genetic predisposition, much can be done to prevent a significant proportion of birth defects. Public health efforts to improve diet, fortification of foods with folic acid, and campaigns to inform on the dangers of teratogenic exposures are all measures that can make a difference.

This working group aims to 1) improve our understanding and knowledge about the causes of differences in pregnancy outcome in the circumpolar region; 2) improve the comparability birth defects rates in the circumpolar region, 3) to determine what birth defects will be amenable to public health efforts and 4) establish cultural-specific public health efforts in circumpolar regions that will prevent birth defects and decrease differences within the region.

We hold separate meetings at the annual meeting of the INCHR, the triennial circumpolar conference, and during other large gatherings of circumpolar health researchers. The Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health (CSCH) and our Working Group would like to encourage you to get involved. We welcome all interested parties.

Working Group Chair

Arild Vaktskjold (Arild.Vaktskjold [@]

Vice Chair

Laura Arbour (larbour [@]

Members of the Circumpolar network for congenital anomalies and other adverse pregnancy outcomes:

A. Corriveau (CAN), G. Osborne (NUN), M. Moffat, E. Eik Anda (NOR), V. Postoev (AO), A. Kozlovskaja (Komi), T. Burtseva (Sacha), JO. Odland (NOR), V. Melnikov (RU), S. McIntosh (CAN), B. Olsen (GRE), L Talykova (MO), FK. Stenz (GRE), IM Nielson (DK), I Solodikova (RU), M. Gissler (FI), A. Leon (CAN), E. Garne (CAN), A. Erikson (CAN), S Ryan (YUK), J. Schoellhorn (ALA), R Montgomery-Andersen (GRE)


  • Circumpolar publications about pregnancy outcome and newborn health (PDF)
  • Summary and outcomes of work shop and Network meeting. Copenhagen 19-20 of May – 2010 (PDF)