Overweight women who smoke were more likely to give birth to babies with conginetal heart defects, say researchers.
A study led by Dr Maria Bakker, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, found that women who smoked and were overweight (a BMI of 25 or more) were more than twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a congenital heart defect as those with just one of the risk factors.
The findings, published in the journal Heart, prompted Dr Bakker to call on health workers to “strongly encourage” overweight women who were looking to become pregnant to quit smoking and to lose weight.
The research involved a study of data on almost 800 live and stillborn babies and aborted foetuses with congenital heart problems, which in turn was compared with more than 320 babies and foetuses which had chromosomal abnormalities but no heart defects.
It also found that the risk of specific abnormalities which reduce the flow of blood from the heart’s ventricle pumping chambers was more than tripled in mothers who smoked and were overweight.
- Baardman M, et al. Combined adverse effects of maternal smoking and high body mass index on heart development in offspring: evidence for interaction? BMJ 2012; Advance online publication