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Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy may lead to congenital heart defects

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Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy may lead to congenital heart defects
Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy may lead to congenital heart defects

Washington – A new study has revealed that mothers’ exposure to specific mixtures of environmental toxins during pregnancy, may result in children’s congenital heart defects.

Congenital heart defects occur when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally before birth. Defects may be caused by chromosomal abnormalities, but the cause is unknown in most cases.

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.

‘Although still in the early stage, this research suggests some chemical emissions- particularly, industrial air emissions- may be linked to heart abnormalities that develop while the heart is forming in the womb,’ lead researcher Deliwe P. Ngwezi, M.D., a Ph.D., student and research fellow in pediatric cardiology at the University of Alberta in Canada, said.

Researchers looked at three chemical categories, but only one group showed a strong correlation with rates of congenital heart defects.

According to Ngwezi, the group of chemicals consists of a mixture of organic compounds and metals namely: benzene, butadiene, carbon disulphide, chloroform, ethylene oxide, hexachlorobenzene, tetrachloroethane, methanol, sulphur dioxide, toluene, lead, mercury and cadmium.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.

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