HealthDay News — Projected increases in maternal heat exposure may result in increased congenital heart defect (CHD) burden, according to a study published online Jan. 30 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Wangjian Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, and colleagues projected the potential changes in maternal heat exposure during early pregnancy (three to eight weeks postconception) and the associated future burden of CHDs in an expansion of a previous nationwide case-control study. Multiple indicators of heat exposure were defined; published odds ratios obtained for the matching season of the baseline (1995 to 2005) were applied into the projection period (2025 to 2035) to estimate CHD changes.
The researchers found that across the United States, increases in maternal heat exposure were projected, and they were expected to be larger in the summer. The highest increase in summer maternal exposure to excessively hot days (3.42 per pregnancy), heat event frequency (0.52), and heat event duration (1.73) was projected for the Midwest. During spring, there were also large increases in specific CHD subtypes, including a 34.0 percent increase in conotruncal CHD in the South and a 38.6 percent increase in atrial septal defect in the Northeast.
“Our results highlight the dramatic ways in which climate change can affect human health and suggest that pediatric heart disease stemming from structural heart malformations may become an important consequence of rising temperatures,” Zhang said in a statement.