High Outdoor Heat Early in Pregnancy May Raise Risk of Congenital Heart Defects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nathalie Auger MD MSc FRCPC Montréal, Québec

Dr. Nathalie Auger

Nathalie Auger MD MSc FRCPC
Montréal, Québec

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We carried out this study because congenital heart defects take a large share of birth defects, but not much is known on its risk factors.

In previous research, we found that very high temperatures in the summer were associated with a greater risk of stillbirth. We sought to determine whether elevated outdoor heat could also be linked with congenital heart defects in a sample of about 700,000 pregnancies.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should know that very high temperatures may be associated with mild heart defects when exposure occurs in the first trimester.

However, the association is very weak, and most women will not be affected.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Because congenital heart defects are rare, future research on larger sample sizes would help clarify if an association also exists with more severe heart defects.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: High outdoor heat was only weakly associated with the risk of congenital heart defects.

To minimize risks, pregnant women in the first trimester should stay well hydrated during heat waves, and avoid excessive heat exposures whenever possible.

No disclosures.

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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP171
Risk of Congenital Heart Defects after Ambient Heat Exposure Early in Pregnancy
Nathalie Auger,1,2 William D. Fraser,3 Reg Sauve,4 Marianne Bilodeau-Bertrand,1,2 and Tom Kosatsky5

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD