(HealthDay News) – Children born to mothers who lost a close relative around the time of conception have a slightly higher risk of congenital heart disease, according to a study published online March 25 in Pediatrics.

Jin Liang Zhu, PhD, from Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues examined the association between maternal stress and congenital heart defects among 44,820 children born to mothers in Denmark who had lost a first-degree relative from one year before conception until delivery. Of these, 38,740 mothers lost a parent or sibling, and 6,080 mothers lost a child or partner.

The researchers found that the prevalence of congenital heart disease was higher in children whose mothers experienced emotional stress. The prevalence was higher among children whose mothers lost a child or partner.

“We found that women exposed to severe emotional stress from bereavement gave birth to children with a slightly increased prevalence of congenital heart disease,” the authors write.

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