Preeclampsia May Raise Risk for Congenital Heart Defects

(HealthDay News) — Preeclampsia may increase risk for congenital heart defects, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Nathalie Auger, MD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues analyzed medical records from 1 942 072 infants born in Quebec between 1989 and 2012. A total of 72 782 mothers had preeclampsia.

Overall, infants born to mothers with preeclampsia had a higher prevalence of critical heart defects: just more than 0.1%, vs roughly 0.07% among infants whose mothers did not have preeclampsia, the researchers found. 

The higher risk did appear limited to women who had developed preeclampsia earlier — before the 34th week of pregnancy. However, preeclampsia was linked to milder heart defects regardless of when it arose during pregnancy. 

About 1.5% of infants born to mothers with preeclampsia had a non-critical heart defect, compared with 0.8% of other infants.

Dr Auger stressed the importance of taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy. 

“It’s already recommended for preventing neural tube defects,” she told HealthDay. “And there is also some evidence that it lowers the risk of congenital heart defects.”


  1. Auger N, Fraser WD, Healy-Profitós J, Arbour L. Association Between Preeclampsia and Congenital Heart Defects. JAMA. 2015;314(15):1588-1598.