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Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jan;125(1):8-14. doi: 10.1289/EHP171. Epub 2016 Aug 5.

Risk of Congenital Heart Defects after Ambient Heat Exposure Early in Pregnancy.

Author information

1
University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Congenital heart defects may be environmentally related, but the association with elevated ambient temperature has received little attention.

OBJECTIVES:

We studied the relationship between outdoor heat during the first trimester of pregnancy and risk of congenital heart defects.

METHODS:

We carried out a retrospective cohort study of 704,209 fetuses between 2 and 8 weeks postconception from April to September in Quebec, Canada, 1988-2012. We calculated the prevalence of congenital heart defects at birth according to the number of days women were exposed to maximum temperature ≥ 30°C. In log-binomial regression models, we estimated prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the relationship of temperature with seven critical and eight noncritical heart defects, adjusted for pregnancy characteristics.

RESULTS:

Prevalence of congenital heart defects was 979.5 per 100,000 for 10 days or more of temperature ≥ 30°C compared with 878.9 per 100,000 for 0 days of exposure. Temperature was more precisely associated with noncritical than critical defects, which had lower prevalence. Fetuses exposed to 15 days of temperature ≥ 30°C between 2 and 8 weeks postconception had 1.06 times the risk of critical defects (95% CI: 0.67, 1.67) and 1.12 times the risk of noncritical defects (95% CI: 0.98, 1.29) relative to 0 days. Associations were higher for atrial septal defects (PR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.70) than for other noncritical defects. For atrial septal defects, associations with elevated temperatures began the 3rd week postconception.

CONCLUSIONS:

Extreme heat exposure during the first trimester may be associated with noncritical heart defects, especially of the atrial septum. Citation: Auger N, Fraser WD, Sauve R, Bilodeau-Bertrand M, Kosatsky T. 2017. Risk of congenital heart defects after ambient heat exposure early in pregnancy. Environ Health Perspect 125:8-14; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP171.

PMID:
27494594
PMCID:
PMC5226695
DOI:
10.1289/EHP171
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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