Heart defects in infants may predict heart problems in the birth mother later in life

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, women who give birth to infants with congenital heart defects may have an increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalizations later in life. Traffic.

The study of more than one million women is the first to show that congenital heart defects in newborns may be a marker of an increased risk of their mothers developing heart problems, including heart attack and stroke. heart failure, years after pregnancy.

The researchers analyzed data on women who gave birth between 1989 and 2013 in Quebec, Canada, who had critical, non-critical, or none heart defects. They followed the women up to 25 years after pregnancy for hospitalizations related to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, heart failure, atherosclerotic disorders and heart transplants.

Compared to mothers of infants without congenital heart defects, the researchers found:

  • 43 percent higher risk of cardiovascular hospitalization in women whose offspring had critical heart defects; and
  • 24% higher risk of cardiovascular hospitalization in women whose infants had non-critical malformations.

The relationship between heart defects in infants and post-pregnancy cardiovascular disease in their mothers is unclear, the study notes, and a genetic component cannot be ruled out. Additionally, given that 85% of infants with heart defects now survive past adolescence, the psychosocial impact of congenital heart disease on caregivers may have a long-term cumulative effect.

“Caring for infants with severe heart defects is associated with psychosocial and financial stress, which may increase the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease for mothers,” said Nathalie Auger, MD, lead author of the study and epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital. Research center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The researchers believe the study offers these mothers the opportunity to benefit from early prevention strategies and counseling to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women.

Healthcare providers, like obstetricians, who treat and follow mothers in the early stages of caring for children with heart defects can help women understand and minimize their risk, Auger said.

“These physicians are in the best position to inform women of this possibility, the increased risk of heart disease, and to provide recommendations to target other risk factors such as smoking, obesity and physical activity,” said she declared.

Some limitations of the research include the fact that the women were young at the start of the study, so for many the 25-year follow-up did not extend beyond menopause, excluding the period of greatest risk. of cardiovascular disease. And, because the researchers used existing medical data, they didn’t have detailed information about the women’s risk factors, such as body weight and smoking status. These are important points that should be considered in future studies, the researchers noted.

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Material provided by American Heart Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.