Anton Alexandrovich Kovalenko’s PhD thesis shows that public health efforts to reduce risk of congential malformations in Northwest Russia should focus on reducing smoking and alcohol consumption in pregnant women.


  1. Pregnant women who smoke, drink alcohol or have diabetes are at increased risk of birthing a child with ventricular septal defects.
  2. 40 % of serious birth defects in the Murmansk area are not registered.


Thesis: Epidemiology and new opportunities of investigating risk factors for congenital malformations in Northwest Russia: a registry-based linkage study
Candidate: Anton Alexandrovich Kovalenko
Time: November 12, 2018 at 12:15
Place: UiT The Arctic University of Norway, MH-Vest: Auditorium Cortex
Link to university website (in Norwegian)


(1) Under-reporting of birth defects – including some serious cardiovascular conditions – is a challenge in the Murmansk area of Northwest Russia. 40 % of malformations registered in the birth registry between 2006 and 2009 were not reported to the regional registry of congenital defects.

(2) 744 of 52 253 children born in the Murmansk area between 2006 and 2011 had ventricular septal defects, a hole between the two ventricles. The risk was somewhat higher in girls. Alcohol abuse during pregnancy was linked to five-fold risk of this particular birth defect, whereas the risk was increased by almost nine-fold in children of women with diabetes mellitus. Smoking was also an independent risk factor for delivering an infant with a hole in the heart.

(3) The third article of the thesis looks at risk factors for hypospadias, the most common birth defect in the Murmansk region.


(1) Kovalenko, A. A., Brenn, T., Odland, J. Ø., Nieboer, E., Krettek, A., & Anda, E. E. (2017). Under-reporting of major birth defects in Northwest Russia: a registry-based studyInternational journal of circumpolar health76(1), 1366785.

(2) Kovalenko, A., Anda, E., Odland, J., Nieboer, E., Brenn, T., & Krettek, A. (2018). Risk Factors for Ventricular Septal Defects in Murmansk County, Russia: A Registry-Based StudyInternational journal of environmental research and public health15(7), 1320.

(3) Kovalenko, A. A., Brenn, T., Odland, J. Ø., Nieboer, E., Krettek, A., & Anda, E. E. Risk Factors for Hypospadias in Northwest Russia: a Murmansk County Birth Registry Study. (unpublished).

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