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    Does preeclampsia increase risk of infant heart defects?


    According to a new population analysis published in JAMA, women who have preeclampsia may be more likely to give birth to infants with heart defects.

    Researchers looked at all live births from 1989 to 2012 in the province of Quebec, which comprises a quarter of Canada’s population. Every woman who delivered an infant, with or without a heart defect, in any Quebec hospital during that period was included, covering 1,942,072 infants.

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    The overall prevalence of heart defects in infants born to women without preeclampsia was 8.6 per 1000, compared with 16.7 per 1000 in infants born to women with preeclampsia. No increase in prevalence of critical heart defects (123.7 per 100,000 vs 75.6 per 100,000) was seen in infants of preeclamptic mothers, but they were more likely to have noncritical heart defects (1538.9 per 100,000 vs 789.2 per 100,000) when compared to infants of non-preeclamptic mothers. Among specific defects, septal defects had the highest prevalence.

    After stratifying the preeclampsia variants, the researchers found that infants of women with early-onset preeclampsia (< 34 weeks) had a greater prevalence of critical heart defects (364.4 per 100,000) and noncritical heart defects (294.6 per 100,000) than those of women with late-onset preeclampsia (≥ 34 weeks).

    The authors concluded that preeclampsia was significantly associated with noncritical heart defects and that a preeclampsia diagnosis before 34 weeks was associated with critical heart defects. They stressed, however, that the absolute risk of congenital heart defects was low.

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    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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