Climate Change Could Harm Babies’ Hearts

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Climate Change Could Harm Babies’ Hearts

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As our days grow hotter and our weather reports become more varied on the news each morning, we think about how this could be affecting our future as adults, but we often forget our children’s future.

Recently a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association predicted that a larger number of babies will possibly be born with congenital heart defects between 2025 and 2035 due to climate change.

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart that is presented at birth. This is the most common type of birth defect and can be described by issues pertaining the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins surrounding the heart.

This recent study builds off earlier work that states that when temperatures are continuously high for a long period of time, it can potentially hurt mothers’ chances of carrying the baby to full term.

The increased rate of babies’ being born with heart defects is due to their mothers’ exposure to higher temperatures from climate change during pregnancy, especially women who are pregnant during the spring and summer months.

Other than climate change halting and reversing progress in human health over the past century, these temperatures could produce up to 7,000 additional cases of congenital heart defects in infants over the 11 year period.

The defects of the heart could also impact how the body works and develops all together in the infant, which could lead to more health problems over time. There are animal studies that found that heat can cause fetal cell death and can negatively impact the proteins that play a critical role in fetal development.

Dr. Shao Lin, a professor of the School of Public Health at the University of Albany, states “Although this study is preliminary, it would be prudent for women in the early weeks of pregnancy to avoid heat extremes similar to the advice given to the persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease during heat spells.”

All of these precautions will overall lower the risk of  the baby developing a heart defect and improve the health of the baby and mother altogether.