Completeness of state administrative databases for surveillance of congenital heart disease

Christine E. Cronk*, Marsha E. Malloy, Andrew N. Pelech, Richard E. Miller, Sally A. Meyer, Melissa Cowell, D. Gail McCarver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Tracking birth prevalence of cardiac defects is essential to determining time and space clusters, and identifying potential associated factors. Resource limitations on state birth defects surveillance programs sometimes require that databases already available be used for ascertaining such defects. This study evaluated the data quality of state administrative databases for ascertaining congenital heart defects (CHD) and specific diagnoses of CHD. METHODS: Children's Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) medical records for infants born 1997-1999 and treated for CHD (n = 373) were abstracted and each case assigned CHD diagnoses based on definitive diagnostic reports (echocardiograms, catheterizations, surgical or autopsy reports). These data were linked to state birth and death records, and birth and postnatal (<1 year of age) hospital discharge summaries at the Wisconsin Bureau of Health Information (WBHI). Presence of any code/checkbox indicating CHD (generic CHD) and exact matches to abstracted diagnoses were evaluated. RESULTS: Fifty-eight percent of cases with generic CHD were identified by state databases. Postnatal hospital discharge summaries identified 48%, birth hospital discharge summaries 27%, birth certificates 9% and death records 4% of these cases. Exact matches were found for 52% of 633 specific diagnoses. Postnatal hospital discharge summaries provided most matches. CONCLUSION: State databases identified 60% of generic CHD and exactly matched about half of specific CHD diagnoses. The postnatal hospital discharge summaries performed best in both in identifying generic CHD and matching specific CHD diagnoses. Vital records had limited value in ascertaining CHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalBirth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth defects
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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