The Prevalence of Congenital Hand and Upper Extremity Anomalies Based Upon the New York Congenital Malformations Registry

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There have been few publications regarding the prevalence of congenital upper extremity anomalies and no recent reports from the United States. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the prevalence of congenital upper extremity anomalies in the total birth population of New York State over a 19-year period utilizing the New York Congenital Malformations Registry (NYCMR) database.


The NYCMR includes children with at least 1 birth anomaly diagnosed by 2 years of age and listed by diagnosis code. We scrutinized these codes for specific upper extremity anomalies, including polydactyly, syndactyly, reduction defects, clubhand malformations, and syndromes with upper limb anomalies. We included children born between 1992 and 2010.


There were a total of 4,883,072 live births in New York State during the study period. The overall prevalence of congenital upper extremity anomalies was 27.2 cases per 10,000 live births. Polydactyly was most common with 12,418 cases and a prevalence rate of 23.4 per 10,000 live births. The next most common anomalies included syndactyly with 627 cases affecting the hands (1498 total) and reduction defects (1111 cases). Specific syndromes were quite rare and were noted in a total of 215 live births. The prevalence of anomalies was higher in New York City compared with New York State populations at 33.0 and 21.9 per 10,000 live births, respectively.


The NYCMR data demonstrate that congenital upper extremity anomalies are more common than previously reported. This is in large part due to the high prevalence of polydactyly. Although registries are imperfect, such data are helpful in monitoring prevalence rates over time, identifying potential causes or associations, and guiding health care planning and future research.

Level of Evidence:

Level I—diagnostic.

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