Pediatric Cardiology

, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 1535–1555

Nongenetic Risk Factors and Congenital Heart Defects

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00246-013-0775-4

Cite this article as:
Patel, S.S. & Burns, T.L. Pediatr Cardiol (2013) 34: 1535. doi:10.1007/s00246-013-0775-4


Advances have been made in identifying genetic etiologies of congenital heart defects. Through this knowledge, preventive strategies have been designed and instituted, and prospective parents are counseled regarding their risk of having an affected child. Great strides have been made in genetic variant identification, and genetic susceptibility to environmental exposures has been hypothesized as an etiology for congenital heart defects. Unfortunately, similar advances in understanding have not been made regarding strategies to prevent nongenetic risk factors. Less information is available regarding the potential adverse effect of modifiable risk factors on the fetal heart. This review summarizes the available literature on these modifiable exposures that may alter the risk for congenital heart disease. Information regarding paternal characteristics and conditions, maternal therapeutic drug exposures, parental nontherapeutic drug exposures, and parental environmental exposures are presented. Factors are presented in terms of risk for congenital heart defects as a group. These factors also are broken down by specific defect type. Although additional investigations are needed in this area, many of the discussed risk factors present an opportunity for prevention of potential disease.


Heart defectsCongenitalHeart diseaseRisk factorsEpidemiology

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Carver College of MedicineUniversity of Iowa, Children’s HospitalIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, College of Public HealthUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA