Women with Heart Defects Might Have a Higher Risk of Pregnancy-Related Health Issues

A happy pregnant couple

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many women with congenital heart defects become pregnant and experience pregnancy-related health complications. Women living with heart defects who are considering having a baby should talk with a healthcare provider before becoming pregnant to discuss how their pregnancy might affect them and their baby.

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Main Findings

  • Based on information for more than 26,000 women living with heart defects in three areas in the United States, nearly 1 in 5 of these women became pregnant over approximately 3 years.
  • Compared to women without heart defects, women with heart defects may have a higher risk for some pregnancy-related issues, such as
    • Anemia (when the number of healthy red blood cells in the body is too low);
    • Hemorrhage (loss of blood); or
    • High blood pressure.
  • Compared to non-pregnant women with heart defects, pregnant women with heart defects had more documented health issues, such as
  • With appropriate medical care and treatment, many women with heart defects can have a healthy pregnancy. Women living with heart defects who are considering having a baby should talk with a healthcare provider before becoming pregnant to discuss how their pregnancy might affect them and their baby.

 About This Study

  • This is one of the first projects to look at pregnancies and both pregnancy-related and non-pregnancy-related health conditions among women with heart defects by collecting information from hospital, clinic, and health insurance records.
  • Scientists reviewed data from women (ages 11–50 years) living in certain counties in Georgia and New York and statewide in Massachusetts between 2008 and 2010.
  • Data were from women who had a heart defect noted in their medical record between 2008 and 2010.

About Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are conditions that are present at birth that can affect the structure of a person’s heart and its ability to work properly. Heart defects can vary from mild (such as a small hole in the heart) to severe (such as missing or poorly formed parts of the heart). Lifelong cardiac care can help people with heart defects live as healthy a life as possible!

Our Work

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) is tracking the number of people living with heart defects to learn about their long-term health, medical costs, and quality of life. This information can help identify opportunities to support the health and wellness of all people living with heart defects.

More Information

Reference

Raskind-Hood C, Saraf A, Riehle-Colarusso T, Glidewell J, Gurvitz M, Dunn JE, Lui GK, Van Zutphen A, McGarry C, Hogue CJ, Hoffman T. Assessing pregnancy, gestational complications, and co-morbidities in women with congenital heart defects (data from ICD-9-CM codes in 3 US surveillance sites). The American Journal of Cardiology. 2020; 125 (5): 812-819.