Fertility and pregnancy in the Fontan population

Int J Cardiol. 2016 Apr 1;208:97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.01.180. Epub 2016 Jan 13.


Background: Women with a Fontan circulation are deemed at significantly increased risk of maternal morbidity and mortality during pregnancy. Publications describe a small number of pregnancies worldwide and a high rate of miscarriage. We compiled the experience of women enrolled in the Australia and New Zealand Fontan (ANZ) Registry with regard to menarche, contraceptive use, pregnancy advice and pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: Women within the ANZ Fontan Registry were contacted and asked to consent to receiving sequential questionnaires.

Results: 156 women ≥ 18 years of age (including 4 deceased individuals) were identified, 101 women consented and 97 completed the initial questionnaire. Women were aged (median) 25 years (23-32); menarche occurred at a median 14 years (13-16). A wide variety of contraceptive methods was reported. 81% of women reported having received advice that pregnancy carried an increased risk or was inadvisable. Pregnancy was reported in a minority (n=27). Miscarriage (42.5%) and termination (7.5%) accounted for half the pregnancy outcomes and the babies were born early (median 31.5 weeks) and small (median 1350 g). Maternal complications of bleeding, arrhythmia and heart failure were reported with no early maternal mortality.

Conclusions: In women with a Fontan circulation the fertility onset is delayed and pregnancy has a higher rate of miscarriage. Successful pregnancy resulted in small and premature babies. Significant maternal morbidity occurred. Whether pregnancy with its volume loading has an adverse effect on the long-term outcome of women with a single ventricle remains to be elucidated.

Keywords: Congenital heart disease; Contraception; Fontan circulation; Menarche; Pregnancy; Women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fontan Procedure / adverse effects
  • Fontan Procedure / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance* / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Young Adult