The rising global temperature will not just have cascading impacts on the environment, it might cause birth defects in humans, too.
According to a new report, a large number of babies in the United States will be born with congenital heart defects between 2025 and 2035. This will be the result of climate change.
Rising Temperature Linked To Congenital Heart Defect
The United States is expected to experience more intense and longer lasting heat events due to climate change in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, it will severely affect pregnant women and their babies. Maternal exposure to extreme heat during pregnancy, especially in the early stages, might lead to fetal cell death and severe fetal malformations.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. The condition can affect the structure and function of the baby's heart, influencing blood flow throughout the rest of the body.
Today, congenital heart defects affect 1 percent of babies born each year in the United States. That is an estimated 40,000 new cases annually.
However, by 2025, the number might rise to as many as 7,000 children born with the condition in the United States over an 11-year period in eight representative states: Arkansas, Texas, California, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, and Utah. The biggest increase is projected in the Midwest, followed by the South and the Northeast.
The researchers came up with the estimate by using data collected by the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a multistate study that investigated risk factors for birth defects, and climate data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Climate Change Endangering Mothers And Babies
"Our findings underscore the alarming impact of climate change on human health and highlight the need for improved preparedness to deal the anticipated rise in a complex condition that often requires lifelong care and follow-up," stated Shao Lin, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Albany, New York and the senior author of the study.
The researchers hope that the findings will inform public health professionals and prepare for the rise of temperature. Pregnant women are advised to avoid extreme heat as much as possible, especially three to eight weeks after conception.