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Objectives Congenital anomaly (CA) are a leading cause of disease, death and disability for children throughout the world. Many have complex and varying healthcare needs which are not well understood. Our aim was to analyse the healthcare needs of children with CA and examine how that healthcare is delivered.
Design Secondary analysis of observational data from the Born in Bradford study, a large prospective birth cohort, linked to primary care data and hospital episode statistics. Negative binomial regression with 95% CIs was performed to predict healthcare use. The authors conducted a subanalysis on referrals to specialists using paper medical records for a sample of 400 children.
Setting Primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services in a large city in the north of England.
Participants All children recruited to the birth cohort between March 2007 and December 2011. A total of 706 children with CA and 10 768 without CA were included in the analyses.
Primary and secondary outcome measures Healthcare use for children with and without CA aged 0 to <5 years was the primary outcome measure after adjustment for confounders.
Results Primary care consultations, use of hospital services and referrals to specialists were higher for children with CA than those without. Children in economically deprived neighbourhoods were more likely to be admitted to hospital than consult primary care. Children with CA had a higher use of hospital services (β 1.48, 95% CI 1.36 to 1.59) than primary care consultations (β 0.24, 95% CI 1.18 to 0.30). Children with higher educated mothers were less likely to consult primary care and hospital services.
Conclusions Hospital services are most in demand for children with CA, but also for children who were economically deprived whether they had a CA or not. The complex nature of CA in children requires multidisciplinary management and strengthened coordination between primary and secondary care.