What is a developmental anomaly?

A developmental anomaly is a broad term used to define conditions which are present at conception or occur before the end of pregnancy. In the case of cerebral palsy, a small number also occur after birth. An anomaly is considered as a departure from normal development. Developmental anomalies are also sometimes called birth defects, congenital malformations or congenital anomalies.

For the Register, a developmental anomaly is defined as:

  • cerebral palsy; or
  • a structural or functional anomaly, which is present at conception or occurs before the end of pregnancy and is diagnosed during pregnancy, or after stillbirth or termination of pregnancy, or after live birth, but before 6 years of age.

Structural means how the body is built and functional means how the body works. Structural developmental anomalies include conditions such as spina bifida, congenital dislocation of the hip and congenital heart defects. Functional anomalies include conditions such as cystic fibrosis and haemophilia. Fetal alcohol syndrome and Down syndrome are also developmental anomalies.

If you would like to see a more detailed list of some of the more common developmental anomalies that WARDA keeps records for please click here. There is also a list of developmental anomalies that are not recorded, available here. Please note that these lists are not exhaustive and many less common anomalies are not listed.