A new study by Canadian researchers analyzed the relationship between preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication marked by maternal high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and heart defects in newborns. Using the records of live births in Quebec occurring between 1989 and 2012, the researchers were able to determine the rate of heart defects in children of pre-eclamptic and non-pre-eclamptic mothers. While the overall rate of heart defects was 8.9 in 1,000 births, that of pre-eclamptic mothers was roughly twice that at 16.7 in 1,000 births.

Researchers also analyzed these heart defects in the context of other possible risk factors such as the mother’s age, pre-existing hypertension, tobacco use, diabetes, obesity, and more. Even when holding these factors constant, the correlation between preeclampsia and heart defects remains. Despite this correlation, Dr. Natalie Auger, the lead researcher, as well as an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, concluded, “Heart defects are rare and most women with preeclampsia will have children with normal hearts.”

With this newfound correlation, however, physicians will be better prepared to help prevent newborn heart defects. This discovery holds the potential to provide a new generation with a better start so that they might, in turn, lead happier, healthier lives.



Bakalar, N. (2015, October 28). Pre-eclampsia Tied to Heart Defects in Newborns. In The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/pre-eclampsia-tied-to-heart-defects-in-newborns/?ref=health

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