-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are both
overweight and smoke during pregnancy could damage their baby's
developing heart, a new study warns.
Researchers in the Netherlands looked at nearly 800 fetuses and
babies with congenital heart defects, but no other birth defects,
between 1997 and 2008. Congenital means present at birth. This
group was compared with more than 300 fetuses and babies born with
chromosomal abnormalities, but without any heart defects.
The results showed that women who were both overweight (body
mass index of 25 or more) and smoked during pregnancy were 2.5
times more likely to have a baby with a congenital heart defect
than women who either smoked or were overweight during
The researchers also found that babies born to overweight
mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a threefold increased risk
of outflow tract abnormalities, in which blood flow from the
ventricles of the heart to the pulmonary artery or aorta is reduced
The study was published online Jan. 31 in the journal
"These results indicate that maternal smoking and overweight may both be involved in the same pathway that causes congenital heart defects," wrote Dr. Marian Bakker of the department of medical genetics at the University Medical Centre, Groningen, and colleagues in a journal news release.
The findings add to the growing body of evidence that smoking
and being overweight during pregnancy is associated with problems
such as miscarriage and stillbirth, stunted growth and premature
birth, the researchers said.
Heart abnormalities, one of the most common kinds of birth
defects, affect about 8 in every 1,000 babies. A likely cause is
identified in only 15 percent of cases.
The March of Dimes has more about
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