Children’s Congenial Heart Defects Linked to Environmental Toxins

Approximately 8 out of every 1,000 newborns have congenial heart defects – abnormalities in the heart’s structure that happen due to incomplete or irregular development of the fetus’ heart during the first stages of the mother’s pregnancy. While some are known to be associated with genetic disorders, the cause of most of these heart defects is unknown. However, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013, heart defects in children may be associated with their mothers’ exposure to specific mixtures of environmental toxins during pregnancy. Researchers examined patterns of congenital heart defects incidence and presence of environmental toxicants in Alberta, Canada. The ongoing research seeks to determine if pregnant women’s proximity to organic compounds and metals emitted in the air impacts the risk of heart defects in their children.

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