Shorter periconception maternal telomere length and the risk of congenital cardiac outflow defects in the offspring

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Background: Congenital cardiac outflow defects (COD) are the largest group of congenital heart defects, with ventricular septal defect (VSD) as the most prevalent phenotype. Increased maternal age, excessive oxidative stress and inflammation are involved in the pathophysiology of COD and enhance telomere length (TL) shortening. We investigated the association between periconception maternal TL and the risk of having a child with COD. Methods: From a multicentre case-control trial, 306 case mothers of a child with COD and 424 control mothers of a child without a congenital malformation were selected. Relative TL was measured by qPCR. Multivariable logistic regression was used to compute crude and adjusted odds ratios, per standard deviation decrease, between maternal T/S ratio and COD and VSD risk. Adjustments were made for maternal age. Additional adjustments were made in a second model. Results: Shorter maternal relative TL was significantly associated with an OR of 1.29 (95% CI 1.04–1.61), p =.02, for the risk of VSD in offspring, which remained significant after an adjustment for maternal age (adjOR 1.25(95% CI 1.01–1.55), p =.04). No association between maternal TL and the risk of overall COD in offspring was observed. Conclusion: Shorter maternal relative TL is associated with an approximately 1.3-OR for the risk, per SD in relative TL shortening, of VSD in the offspring. These findings need further confirmation in other studies on the predictive value of maternal TL.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13784
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. European Journal of Clinical Investigation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.


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