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Birth Defects In Children May Shorten Mothers' Lives

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Mothers of children with major congenital abnormalities have increased risk of death than women with healthy children, reports a recent study.

According to a research conducted in Denmark, women who gave birth to children with severe congenital anomaly have a slight but significant elevated risk of early death than their counterparts with unaffected children.

Congenital Abnormalities In Children Affect Mothers' Health

Congenital abnormalities commonly referred as birth defects include cleft lip, cleft palate, neural tube defects and certain heart defects. About 2 to 5 percent of the children in the United States and Europe are born with such major birth defects.

It is observed that giving birth to a child with one of such abnormalities affects the mother's health adversely. The congenital anomaly that demands medical intervention burdens the mothers financially. Mothers also face challenges in providing appropriate care to the affected children in their home settings. As a result, the health and well-being of women who face such pressures is impaired over time.

Study On Mothers' With Birth Defect Children

Eyal Cohen and team at University of Toronto conducted a study to understand whether congenital abnormalities of children have a role to play in early death of the mothers. For the purpose of the research, the investigators carried out a population-based study that involved data of mothers who had children with abnormalities from 1979 to 2010 that had follow-up till Dec. 31, 2014 from Danish registry.

The researchers also formed a comparison group for each mother with a child with congenital anomaly by picking a minimum of 10 mothers who matched her maternal age, year of child's birth and the number of children they had.

Increased Death Risk For Mothers Of Children With Congenital Anomaly

 After following up for an average of 21 years it was observed that 1,275 deaths were recorded in 41,508 mothers who had children with congenital abnormality opposed to 10,112 deaths in 413,742 mothers with healthy children. The rate of death was found to be 1.60 per 1,000 women in affected mothers and 1.27 per 1,000 women in unaffected mothers over a period of 21 years.

Though the difference between the rate of death in affected mothers and unaffected mothers is small the researchers note that it is significant. The mothers of children with birth defects were more likely to die of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems and other natural causes.

"The birth of a child with major congenital anomalies was associated with a small increased risk of death of mothers," noted the author, reported Eurekalert.

 The study is published in JAMA on Dec. 20.

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