Bad things just happen

Here’s a news article that has been floating around the Internet for a few days: Overweight mothers linked to heart defects. Apparently if you are above your recommended weight when you get pregnant, your chances of having a child with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) increase tremendously.

Here’s my take on the article: %&^*@#!

Let’s look at some facts:

First, the researchers used the Body Mass Index (BMI) charts to determine if the women being studied was overweight, moderately obese, or severely obese. Right off the bat, we have a problem: The BMI is badly outdated. It was originally developed over 100 years ago, and the chart classifies Brad Pitt as being overweight. We can debate all day how good of an actor Mr. Pitt is (I’m not impressed) but just look at the guy – he’s NOT overweight!

Next, you need to look at the statistics not as stand alone numbers, but in context of what we already know about heart defects. An 18% increase in the chances of having a child with CHD if you are obese; or a 30% chance if you are severely obese. Good Heavens, you’re almost guaranteeing your child will be sick!

Are you?

We know that 1 child in 125 live births will be born with a heart defect, on average. Change 1/125 into a decimal figure, and your child has a 0.008% chance of being born with a CHD.

If we increase the chances of CHD occurence by 18%, the number jumps to 0.00944%…or 1.18 chances in 125. And if you increase it by 30%, CHD chances leap to 0.0104%. That’s 1.3 chances in 125.

When we – Americans are bad about doing this – start to search for a cause of something, it can turn into not only a search for a cause, but for a place to put the blame. Because we can’t accept that sometimes, bad things just happen. And look! Heavier women have more babies with heart defects! That must be the cause, or one of them! We’ve found it! And we can fix it!

But this world is full of women who abused their bodies in a hundred different ways, and had completely normal children. And it is also full of women like my mom, who did everything the doctor told her to do and still I was born with a heart defect. A lot of researchers think that environment plays a large part in the occurrence of Congenital Heart Defects; at the same time, there is a lot of evidence that genetics play a large role, also. So it’s probably a little of both, and who knows what else might contribute to CHD. Radiation? Possibly, I live 20 miles from a nuclear plant. But that plant wasn’t there when I was born.

Until we know more about what causes a heart defect, we just have to accept that sometimes bad things just happen.

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2 Responses to “Bad things just happen”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Thanks STEVE! I just screamed when I read the article. I wasn’t overweight when I got pregnant with JB….and the diabetic piece (which is a very real issue) got lost in the article. Thanks for giving a good blurb.

  2. Tina Says:

    I have 2 kids with CHD ( one was simple VSD and the other is coarc, hypoplastic transverse aortic arch and bicuspid aortic valve) and I was not overweight when I got pregnant with either. Obesity is common and so are congenital heart defects. Seems like it could be easy to make a connection that is not truly there.

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