Maternal Overweight and Obesity and Risk of Congenital Heart Defects


Congenital heart defects are more frequent in offspring of mothers with overweight or obesity. However, associations between maternal overweight and obesity, and risks of complex and specific heart defects are not clear.


This study sought to analyze associations between maternal overweight and obesity severity and rates of complex and specific heart defects.


This was a population-based cohort study in Sweden, including 2,050,491 live singleton infants born between 1992 and 2012. Data on maternal and infant characteristics, and diagnoses of congenital heart defects were retrieved from nationwide registries. Maternal body mass index (BMI) was categorized as underweight (BMI <18.5 kg/m2), normal weight (BMI 18.5 to <25 kg/m2), overweight (BMI 25 to <30 kg/m2), obesity class I (BMI 30 to <35 kg/m2), class II (BMI 35 to <40 kg/m2), and class III (BMI ≥40 kg/m2). Outcomes included complex heart defects (tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, atrial septal defects [ASD], aortic arch defects, and single-ventricle heart) and subgroups of specific heart defects diagnosed up to 5 years of age. The authors calculated adjusted prevalence rate ratios (PRRs) with 95% confidence intervals.


A total of 28,628 (1.40%, N = 2,050,491) children had at least 1 congenital heart defect. PRRs of aortic arch defects increased with maternal obesity severity. Compared with offspring of normal weight mothers, PRRs of aortic arch defects and transposition of the great arteries were doubled in offspring of mothers with severe obesity. PRRs of ASD and persistent ductus arteriosus in term infants increased with maternal BMI.


PRRs of aortic branch defects, ASD, and persistent ductus arteriosus increase with maternal obesity severity.

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