Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy Linked to Higher Heart Defect Risk in Babies

Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy Linked to Higher Heart Defect Risk in Babies

Smoking during pregnancy could increase the risk of congenital heart defects as per a study presented at Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada. Cigarette smoking has been linked to many birth defects including deformed limbs, higher diabetes risk and cleft lips, in past studies as well.

The birth certificate data and hospital discharge reports were analyzed by the research team in Washington. The records for women who were smoking during pregnancy had 50-70 percent higher risk of pulmonary valve and pulmonary arteries anomalies in the newborns. The study also found nearly 20 percent higher risk for holes in the walls separating the two collecting chambers of the heart.

The research team evaluated medical records of 14,000 infants born with some heart defect. The records were compared to nearly 62,000 healthy infants. The study team found a link between smoking habit of mother and higher risk of heart defect.

Atrial septal defect is a serious condition requiring surgical procedure to be performed before significant pulmonary hypertension. It could also lead to Eisenmenger's syndrome and the mortality rate is high on closure of Atrial septal defect.

Study lead Patrick M. Sullivan from Seattle Children's Hospital said, “I care for kids with complex congenital heart disease on a daily basis, and I see these kids and their families enduring long hospitalizations and often sustaining serious long-term complications as a result of their disease.”

The risk was higher among women who smoked more. The study team also found that women over 35, who were smoking during pregnancy, had even higher risk compared to younger mothers. However, it was noted that young women had more inclination towards smoking compared to women over 35.

Dr. Sullivan added, “Ongoing cigarette use during pregnancy is a serious problem that increases the risk of many adverse outcomes in newborns. Our research provides strong support for the hypothesis that smoking while pregnant increases the risk of specific heart defects.”

In a recent report, it has been found that nearly 10 percent of women smoke during pregnancy. The study team has not received any outside funding for the study.

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