Interaction of maternal medication use with ambient heat exposure on congenital heart defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study

the National Birth Defects Prevention Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Maternal exposure to weather-related extreme heat events (EHEs) has been associated with congenital heart defects (CHDs) in offspring. Certain medications may affect an individual's physiologic responses to EHEs. We evaluated whether thermoregulation-related medications modified associations between maternal EHE exposure and CHDs. Methods: We linked geocoded residence data from the U.S. National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a population-based case-control study, to summertime EHE exposures. An EHE was defined using the 90th percentile of daily maximum temperature (EHE90) for each of six climate regions during postconceptional weeks 3–8. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between EHE90 and the risk of CHDs were estimated by strata of maternal thermoregulation-related medication use and climate region. Interaction effects were evaluated on multiplicative and additive scales. Results: Over 45% of participants reported thermoregulation-related medication use during the critical period of cardiogenesis. Overall, these medications did not significantly modify the association between EHEs and CHDs. Still, medications that alter central thermoregulation increased aORs (95% CI) of EHE90 from 0.73 (0.41, 1.30) among non-users to 5.09 (1.20, 21.67) among users in the Southwest region, U.S. This effect modification was statistically significant on the multiplicative (P = 0.03) and additive scales, with an interaction contrast ratio (95% CI) of 1.64 (0.26, 3.02). Conclusion: No significant interaction was found for the maternal use of thermoregulation-related medications with EHEs on CHDs in general, while medications altering central thermoregulation significantly modified the association between EHEs and CHDs in Southwest U.S. This finding deserves further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114217
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Extreme heat events
  • Heart defects
  • Medication use during pregnancy
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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