The association of elevated maternal genetic risk scores for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity and having a child with a congenital heart defect

PLoS One. 2019 May 29;14(5):e0216477. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216477. eCollection 2019.


Background: Maternal hypertension, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity are associated with an increased risk of having offspring with conotruncal heart defects (CTDs). Prior studies have identified sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with risk for each of these three adult phenotypes. We hypothesized that these same SNPs are associated with maternal risk of CTDs in offspring.

Methods and results: We evaluated the parents of children with a CTD ascertained from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (n = 466) and by the Pediatric Cardiac Genomic Consortium (n = 255). We used a family-based design to assess the association between CTDs and the maternal genotype for individual hypertension, T2D, and obesity-related SNPs and found no association between CTDs and the maternal genotype for any individual SNP. In addition, we calculated genetic risk scores (GRS) for hypertension, T2D, and obesity using previously published GRS formulas. When comparing the GRS of mothers to fathers, there were no statistically significant differences in the mean for the combined GRS or the GRS for each individual condition. However, when we categorized the mothers and fathers of cases with CTDs as having high (>95th percentile) or low (≤95th percentile) scores, compared to fathers, mothers had almost two times the odds of having a high GRS for hypertension (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0, 2.8) and T2D (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1, 3.1).

Conclusions: Our results support a link between maternal genetic risk for hypertension/T2D and CTDs in their offspring. These associations might be independent of maternal phenotype at conception.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / pathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / genetics*
  • Hypertension / pathology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Obesity, Maternal / genetics*
  • Obesity, Maternal / pathology
  • Obesity, Maternal / physiopathology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / genetics*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / pathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / genetics*
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / pathology
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors