Congenital abnormalities associated with limb deficiency defects: A population study based on cases from the Hungarian Congenital Malformation Registry (1975-1984)

J. A. Evans, M. Vitez, A. Czeizel

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Limb deficiency defects (LD) occurring among 1,575,904 births in Hungary during 1975-1984 were reviewed. The overall birth prevalence of LD was 1 in 1,816. This paper discusses the nature and distribution of the limb and other defects in the 275 (32%) children who had structural malformations in other systems. Two main forms of classification were used: morphologic and causal. Additional malformations were most commonly seen in infants with amelia, rudimentary limb (RL), radial/tibial (RT), intercalary or central axis (CA) LD and rarely in those with terminal transverse (TT) or ulnar/fibular (UF) defects. Upper limbs (81%) were involved significantly more often than lower limbs (42%) and there were more right-sided defects (83% vs. 71%) due to an excess of right arm involvement especially with radial ray and split hand anomalies. Single limb involvement was relatively common with amelia (88%), UF (82%), RT (50%), and TT (50%) defects. With other LD, multimelic involvement was more characteristic. This was usually symmetric with intercalary and RL defects but asymmetric with CA anomalies and digital deficiencies (DD). From a causal perspective, 17% of cases had genetic disorders, 52% had recognized associations, anomalies, sequences, environmental causes or patterns of unknown origin, and 31% had unknown patterns of malformations. The commonest entities were amnion disruption sequence (16% of cases) and VACTERL association (8%). Both of these disorders showed unusual temporal distribution. As anticipated, patterns of malformations differed with the type of LD. Amelia and digital amputations were often seen with body wall defects, atypical anencephaly or encephalocele, and cleft lip reflecting amnion disruption. Rudimentary limb was seen with anencephaly, omphalocele, renal agenesis, aberrant genitalia, and imperforate anus, reflecting defects of blastogenesis including the cloacal exstrophy and caudal regression sequences and Schisis association. Radial/tibial defects were associated with different patterns depending on whether the limb defects were unilateral or bilateral. Unilateral defects occurred with anomalies suggesting VACTERL association or the facio-auriculo- vertebral anomaly, while bilateral defects occurred more often in genetic or potentially genetic disorders including VACTERL with hydrocephalus. Central axis defects showed three main patterns of association: one reflecting the ectrodactyly-ectodermal dysplasia-clefting syndrome; one with tongue anomalies representing a variant of oro-mandibular-limb (Hanhart) anomaly, and the last with hydronephrosis indicating a group of 'acrorenal' syndromes. Strong associations with other anomalies were not seen in the groups with TT, UF, or intercalary defects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-66
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 10 1994


  • limb deficiency defects
  • malformation associations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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