Can climate change increase babies’ risk of heart disease?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
By Lisa Freedland

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2019 suggests warmer temperatures due to climate change may cause an uptick in the number of babies born with congenital heart disease, starting in 2025.

Scientists currently hypothesize that heat exposure during early pregnancy causes "fetal cell death or interferes with protein synthesis," both of which disrupt the development of a fetus.

Heart disease currently affects around 40,000 children born per year in the U.S. and is the most common birth defect. Scientists believe the uptick may cause an additional 7,000 babies per year to be born with the defect between 2025 and 2035.

While most congenital heart disease cases are treatable, scientists are encouraging pregnant women to "limit time outdoors" and use air conditioning during hot weather.

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