Mothers of babies with heart defects may have long-term heart health risks

By: Guest Author | Posted on: Apr 05, 2018

This article was originally published on abcnews.go.com byDR. KELLY ARPS. View the original article by clicking here.  

Mothers of babies with heart defects may have their own heart health risks

Nearly one in 100 babies are born with a heart condition -- and a new study says that their mothers may have a higher risk of their own heart problems.

A study of more than 1 million moms found that those raising children with heart problems were more likely to be hospitalized themselves for heart disease -- 25 percent more likely than other mothers of the same age.

If the child’s heart defect was categorized as “critical,” it was even worse for moms, with a 43 percent higher rate of hospitalization. These moms were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. Additionally, mothers in this “critical” group even had higher risk of requiring a heart transplant for severe heart disease.

What is the connection?

The researchers aren’t sure of the connection yet. It’s possible that undiscovered genetic factors which end up causing problems with the baby’s developing heart may also make the mom’s heart more prone to disease. Additionally, stress chemicals released in response to problems during pregnancy may cause long term effects on mom’s heart.

Could the stress and exhaustion of raising a sick child possibly be a reason?

Parenting a sick child leads to years of added stress which may have a physical impact on the parent. Prior research showed that raising infants with heart conditions, with costly and emotionally draining hospitalizations, is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression. These factors can increase risk of heart disease. The study didn’t find a higher rate of other commonly associated diseases (diabetes, obesity, or pre-eclampsia) in the women who developed heart disease, but habits that weren’t reported, like smoking, could be more common in this group and contribute to their risk.

Since most mothers tend to prioritize their children’s health over their own, they are more likely to miss the early signs of heart disease when it happens to them...

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