Maternal obesity, interpregnancy weight changes and congenital heart defects in the offspring: a nationwide cohort study

Int J Obes (Lond). 2024 May 11. doi: 10.1038/s41366-024-01531-5. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To evaluate the association between maternal BMI and congenital heart defects (CHDs) in the offspring when including live births, stillbirths, aborted and terminated pregnancies and to investigate if maternal interpregnancy weight changes between the first and second pregnancy influences the risk of foetal CHDs.

Methods: A nationwide cohort study of all singleton pregnancies in Denmark from 2008 to 2018. Data were retrieved from the Danish Foetal Medicine Database, which included both pre- and postnatal diagnoses of CHDs. Children or foetuses with chromosomal aberrations were excluded. Odds ratios were calculated with logistic regression models for CHDs overall, severe CHDs and five of the most prevalent subtypes of CHDs.

Results: Of the 547 105 pregnancies included in the cohort, 5 442 had CHDs (1.0%). Risk of CHDs became gradually higher with higher maternal BMI; for BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.17 (95% CI 1.10-1.26), for BMI 30-34.9 kg/m2, aOR 1.21 (95% CI 1.09-1.33), for BMI 35-39.9 kg/m2, aOR 1.29 (95% CI 1.11-1.50) and for BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2, aOR 1.85 (95% CI 1.54-2.21). Data was adjusted for maternal age, smoking status and year of estimated due date. The same pattern was seen for the subgroup of severe CHDs. Among the atrioventricular septal defects (n = 231), an association with maternal BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 was seen, OR 1.67 (95% CI 1.13-2.44). 109 654 women were identified with their first and second pregnancies in the cohort. Interpregnancy BMI change was associated with the risk of CHDs in the second pregnancy (BMI 2 to < 4 kg/m2: aOR 1.29, 95% CI 1.09-1.53; BMI ≥ 4 kg/m2: aOR 1.36, 95% CI 1.08-1.68).

Conclusion: The risk of foetal CHDs became gradually higher with higher maternal BMI and interpregnancy weight increases above 2 BMI units were also associated with a higher risk of CHDs.