Climate change and congenital heart defects

Higher temperatures – the consequence of climate change – may translate into higher number of babies being born with heart disorders. The direct cause may be exposure of mothers to higher temperatures during pregnancy. As studies reveal, the American Heart Association expects significant spreading of this phenomenon in years 2025-2035.

Researchers stated that the exposure of pregnant women to higher temperatures may bring about 7 thousand more congenital heart defects (CHD) in the United states alone.

Animal research showed that higher temperatures may result in foetus cells dying out and negatively affecting proteins which are critical to foetus development.

The highest risk of CHD was reported in mothers whose pregnancies fell to spring and summer.

The research was partly based on previous scientific studies which revealed that when air temperature is high, the risk of having a baby with a CHD is growing. It was also proven that higher temperatures increase the risk of women giving earlier births and contributes to lower weight of the baby at birth.

Scientists analysed data collected in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study in a widespread, multistate population-based study, which examined thermal impact on the development of birth anomalies. They compared the results with climate data presented by the United States government.

“Our findings underscore the alarming impact of climate change on human health and highlight the need for improved preparedness to deal the anticipated rise in a complex condition”, said study author Dr. Shao Lin, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Albany. “Although this study is preliminary, it would be prudent for women in the early weeks of pregnancy to be more careful during heat spells”, added Dr. Lin.

Based on climate forecasts, the entire territory of the United States will face higher average temperatures, which will pose even greater threats to public health[1].

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/30/health/climate-change-congenital-heart-defects-study/index.html