Congenital Heart Disease in Infants Associated with Climate Change
Research shows climate change could lead to more U.S. babies born with congenital heart defects, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association. They based their results on climate change forecasts from NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The research compared data on how heat exposure during pregnancy affected the risk of congenital heart defects among babies born between 1997 and 2007.
The study found that hotter temperatures may lead to as many as 7,000 additional cases of congenital heart disease defects in infants born between 2025 and 2035 in eight representative states: Arkansas, Texas, California, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, New York and Utah. Congenital heart problems are the most common birth defect in the United States, occurring in about 40,000 newborns each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The studies senior author, Dr. Shao Lin said, “It is important for clinicians to counsel women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant on the importance of avoiding extreme heat—especially three to eight weeks after conception, a critical time for fetal development.”
Dr. Huang tells us, “With Hawaii’s high temperature averaging between 80-89 degrees throughout the year, fewer newborns should be affected by congenital heart disease related to global warming. And remember, hot tubs and saunas also increase body core temperature and are associated with birth defects.”