MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Martina Persson, M.D, PhD
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: It is well known that maternal obesity increases risks of adverse fetal outcomes, including congenital malformations of the heart. However, it is unclear if maternal overweight and obesity associate with risks of specific and more complex congenital heart defects. We conducted a population-based cohort study in Sweden using data from several health registries. The study included more than 2 million live, singletons born between 1992-2012. Risks (prevalence rate ratios) of complex heart defects (Tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries (TGA), atrial septal defects (ASD), aortic arch defects, and single ventricle heart) and several specific heart defects were estimated in infants to mothers with overweight and increasing degree of obesity.
We found that risks of aortic arch defects, ASD and patent ductus arteriosus (in term infants) increased with maternal obesity severity. On the other hand, we found no clear associations between maternal BMI and risks of several other complex and specific heart defects.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Maternal obesity in early pregnancy increases risks of some complex and specific congenital heart defects. Maternal obesity is currently one of the most prevalent modifiable risk factors for congenital malformations. As the most vulnerable period of fetal organ development occurs in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, primary prevention should focus on reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity in women in reproductive age.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future studies should focus on trying to elucidate potential mechanisms behind the increased risk of congenital heart malformations associated with maternal obesity. In particular, it would be interesting to investigate the importance of endogenous fat distribution for these risks.
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