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A sustainable solution for the activities of the European Network for Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies: EUROCAT as part of the EU Platform on Rare Diseases Registration

Abstract: 
The European Commission through its Directorates-General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) and Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) is developing the European Platform on Rare Diseases Registration (EU RD Platform) with the objective to set European-level standards for data collection and data sharing. In the field of rare diseases the EU RD Platform will be a source of information on available rare disease patient data with large transnational European coverage. One main function of the EU RD Platform is to enable interoperability for the >600 existing RD registries in Europe. The second function is to offer a sustainable solution for two large European surveillance networks: European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT) and Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe (SCPE). EUROCAT is European network of population-based registries for the epidemiological surveillance of congenital anomalies. It covers about one third of the European birth population. The Central Database contains about 800,000 cases with congenital anomalies among livebirths, stillbirths and terminations of pregnancy, reported using the same standardised classification and coding. These high quality data enables epidemiological surveillance of congenital anomalies, which includes estimating prevalence, prenatal diagnosis and perinatal mortality rates and the detection of teratogenic exposures among others. The network also develops recommendations for primary prevention in the Rare Diseases National Plans for medicinal drugs, food/nutrition, lifestyle, health services, and environmental pollution. The network has received the European Commission's support since its inception. In order to offer a sustainable solution for the continuation of EUROCAT activities, it was agreed that EUROCAT would become part of the EU RD Platform. In 2015, the European level-coordination activities and the Central Database were transferred to the DG JRC, where the JRC-EUROCAT Central Registry is now located. This paper describes the functioning of EUROCAT in the new setting, and gives an overview of the activities and the organisation of the JRC-EUROCAT Central Registry.