Baby heart defects linked to mom’s heart problems

By Amy Norton

health day reporter

MONDAY, April 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Women who have babies with congenital heart defects may face an increased risk of heart disease years later, a large study has found.

Researchers found that among more than one million women, those who had given birth to a baby with a heart defect were up to 43% more likely to be hospitalized for heart problems over the next 25 years .

The study is the first to link newborn heart defects to heart disease in mothers. And experts said the reasons for the findings are unclear.

“I think women should be aware of the results, but not be concerned about them,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association who was not involved in the research.

The study had some limitations, Bauman said. For example, the researchers couldn’t examine whether smoking explained at least part of the link: the habit can increase the risk of birth defects and heart disease in adults.

It is plausible, however, that a child’s heart problems contribute to the mother’s risk of heart disease in the future.

“The mother is completely focused on her child,” Bauman said. Because of this, she added, their own health issues might be overlooked.

Additionally, Bauman noted, there’s a potential role for chronic stress — both emotional and financial — especially if a child has a more severe heart defect that requires repeat procedures and hospitalizations.

The bottom line, according to Bauman, is that mothers should be reassured that they have “permission” to take care of themselves.

“Taking care of your own health doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your child,” she said.

Worldwide, congenital heart defects affect nearly eight in 1,000 newborns. This makes them the most common form of birth defect, according to researchers in the study, led by Dr. Nathalie Auger, of the Montreal university.

But until now, it was unclear whether the mothers of these babies were themselves at particular risk of developing heart disease, the researchers noted.

The study results are based on the medical records of more than one million women who gave birth in Quebec, Canada, between 1989 and 2013. Of these women, 16,400 had a baby with a heart defect.

In most cases, the defects were relatively mild and treatment could be delayed or not needed at all. But just over 1,500 babies had “critical” defects – such as obstructions between the heart and lungs and holes between heart chambers – which needed immediate treatment.

Over the next 25 years, the mothers of these babies were more likely to be hospitalized for heart attacks, heart failure or other heart problems, the investigators found.

Among women whose babies had critical heart defects, there were about 3.4 hospitalizations per 1,000 women each year, according to the report. This figure was 3.2 per 1,000 among mothers of babies with less severe defects – and 2.4 per 1,000 among women whose babies were free of heart defects.

The researchers weighed other factors – including the women’s age at the time of delivery and documented health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and depression – both during and after pregnancy.

It turned out that these factors did not fully explain the link between congenital heart defects and heart disease in mothers. Moms of babies with critical defects were still 43% more likely to be hospitalized for heart problems, compared to moms of babies without heart defects.

If their baby had a less severe heart defect, the risk was 24% higher, according to the results.

“That doesn’t mean you’re destined to have a heart attack,” Bauman emphasized. “That means you also have to take care of yourself. Don’t ignore your own health.”

Dr. Ali Zaidi directs the adult congenital heart disease program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Zaidi agreed that women shouldn’t be alarmed by the results. He also said more studies were needed to understand what was going on, including whether there were roles for genetics, chronic stress or other underlying health conditions that this study could not. to resolve.

Still, Zaidi called the results “fascinating” and said they send a message to doctors. “We probably need to focus more on mothers,” he said. “We should be looking at their cardiovascular risk and what they can do to reduce it.”

This, Zaidi noted, includes the steps everyone needs – including healthier eating, regular exercise and better blood pressure control.

The study results were published online April 2 in the journal American Heart Association. Traffic.