Environmental toxins cause congenital heart defects

Environmental toxins cause congenital heart defects
Environmental toxins cause congenital heart defects

New research presented at the session of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Dallas, Texas by Dr. Deliwe P. Ngwezi, research fellow in pediatric cardiology at the University of Alberta in Canada, indicates that a certain group of environmental pollutants is responsible for congenital heart defects in children.

The study was based on the reporting of congenital heart defects in Canada between 2004 and 2011. Congenital heart defects began decreasing in 2006 in Canada when the Canadian the government tightened regulations to reduce industrial air emissions.

The heart defect decreases were mainly associated with heart defects resulting in holes between the upper and lower heart chambers and malformations of the cardiac outflow tracts according to Dr. Ngwezi.

The chemicals that were most highly correlated with the cause of congenital heart defects were benzene, butadiene, carbon disulfide, chloroform, ethylene oxide, hexachlorobenzene, tetrachloroethane, methanol, sulfur dioxide, toluene, lead, mercury, and cadmium. These are all common industrial pollutants that can be controlled with new emission control technology.

The researchers acknowledge the limitations of the study in correlating each exact chemical environment with each patient’s specific heart abnormality but the reductions of the number of congenital heart defects across Canada after limits were placed on toxic pollution is a sign of proceeding in the proper direction.


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