Researchers Found Link Between Expectant Mother's Chronic Diseases And Congenital Heart Defects In Babies

First Posted: Oct 14, 2016 03:47 AM EDT

Pregnant women are known to have a chance to pass some physical conditions they have to their unborn babies. Just recently, a study revealed that expectant mothers with congenital heart defects or type-2 diabetes are more at risk of giving birth to babies with severe congenital heart disease and should be closely assessed during the prenatal period.

According to Medical News Today, researchers analyzed about 4 million births in Taiwan and found that mothers with diabetes (type 1 or 2), high blood pressure, congenital heart disease, anemia, epilepsy and several other chronic diseases have a slightly higher risk of having children born with mild congenital heart disease. However, the authors pointed out that there is only a slight risk.

"Although some maternal diseases were associated with congenital heart disease in offspring, caution should be applied in interpreting these associations, because the population attributable risks were very low," writes Dr. Chung-Yi Li, Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, with coauthors.

Medical Xpress reported that congenital heart disease is the most common pre-existing condition in newborns with about 5 to 15 newborns in 1000 live births. It is also the number one cause of newborn deaths. Researchers found a slightly higher rate of the heart disease in newborns according to the Taiwanese sample population, about 20 out of 1000 live births, than with other countries. They claimed that the increased use of fetal echocardiography may also detect more cases.

Meanwhile, researchers also found that there was an unexpected reduction in the number of cases of severe congenital heart disease, and figured that the more frequent use of diagnostic techniques during pregnancy may lead to more patients terminating pregnancies with known cardiac abnormalities, reported Eurekalert. "The results of the current study are of value for preconception counseling and the identification of high-risk pregnant women," write the authors. "For pregnant women who are at high risk, more frequent prenatal screening (with fetal echocardiography) may be warranted. Early recognition of congenital heart disease also permits optimal preparation and care during pregnancy, delivery and the postnatal period."

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