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Am J Med. 1996 Mar;100(3):328-32.

Long-term outcome of mothers of children with complete congenital heart block.

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Division of Rheumatology, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Canada.



To determine the health of mothers of offspring with complete congenital heart block (CHB) both at the time of delivery of the affected child and in the long-term, and the percentage of mothers and children with CHB who had anti-SSA/Ro and/or SSB/La antibodies.


Sixty-four mothers of 64 children with CHB (seen between 1964 and 1993) were identified through the Cardiology database of The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada. Medical information from these of children with CHB was evaluated. Data were obtained from the mothers by mailed questionnaire, telephone interview, and/or from the attending physicians. The presence of anti-Ro antibodies and anti-La antibodies were evaluated by ELISA assay.


The mean age at the time of delivery of the first child with CHB was 28 +/- 6 years. At the time of delivery 42 (66%) mothers were healthy, 2 (3%) had systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 2 (3%) had linear scleroderma, 2 (3%) had rheumatoid arthritis; 3 (5%) had a history of rheumatic fever (but were otherwise well), 1 (2%) had Sjogren's syndrome (SS), and 12 (19%) had an undifferentiated autoimmune syndrome (UAS) (arthralgia, myalgia, photosensitivity, skin vasculitis, Raynaud's phenomenon). The mean time to follow-up from deliver to study was 121 +/- 88 months. The mean maternal age at study was 38 +/- 9 years. Three of 12 mothers who initially had a UAS progressed to SLE (average follow-up time of 80 months, median 96), and 2 developed SS (with average follow-up time 140 months, median 132) and 1 went into remission. The mean follow-up time for the other mothers who did not develop an autoimmune disease was 150 +/- 102 months. Thirty-six of the 42 initially healthy mothers remained well. One mother developed SLE; 1 developed hyperthyroidism; 1 developed anky-losing spondylitis; and 3 developed an UAS. The mean follow-up time of the 36 mothers who remained healthy was similar (123 +/- 97 months) to the 6 initial healthy mothers who developed an autoimmune disease (121 +/- 36 months). Anti-Ro and/or anti-La antibodies were positive in 32 of 53 (60%) mothers tested. Fourteen of the 53 mothers were symptomatic at the time of delivery and 39 were asymptomatic. Anti-Ro and/or anti-La antibodies were positive in 12 of 13 mothers tested at the time of delivery.


The long-term maternal outcome in our cohort was very good as most of the initially healthy mothers remained well at follow-up. Twenty-five percent of the mothers with a UAS and only 2% of the initially healthy mothers developed SLE. The development of an autoimmune disease in an asymptomatic mother identified by the birth of a child with CHB was less common in our study than in previous studies. However, close follow-up of mothers with UAS is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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