It has been well-recognised that human activities account for most of the global warming. And, in turn, climate change affects the health of the people.
Global warming is associated with extreme weather events, variable climates that affect food and water supplies and ecosystem changes and thereby adversely affects the social determinants of health (food, water and environment). Natural disasters such as floods, heat waves, cold waves, changing epidemiology of many infectious diseases are attributed to climate change.
Now, a new study has added another dimension of reproductive health to the effect of climate change on human health.
The study published online Jan. 30, 2019 in the Journal of the American Heart Association has suggested that rising temperatures associated with climate change could trigger heart defects in babies.
The number of babies born with congenital heart defects (CHD) throughout the United States would be higher in the projection period (2025–2035) due the exposure of pregnant women to more intense and longer‐lasting heat events, due to climate change.
The study also observed that the Midwestern states in the US will potentially have the highest increase in maternal exposure to excessively hot days, heat event frequency and heat event duration during the spring and summer months. Large increases in specific CHD subtypes during spring, including a 34.0% increase in conotruncal CHD in the South and a 38.6% increase in atrial septal defect in the Northeast were found in the matching season at the baseline (1995–2005)
Hence, pregnant women should avoid exposure to extreme heat, especially during early pregnancy (3–8 weeks post conception).
(Source: J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Feb 5;8(3):e010995, WHO)
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA