Cigarette smoking is a powerful human germ cell mutagen and teratogen. Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most prevalent of all birth defects and leading cause of death in the first year of life. The purpose of this article is to review the epidemiology of the impact of cigarette smoking on CHD risk as well as to discuss the potential biological mechanisms of smoking – mediated abnormal cardiac development. Although epidemiological studies of association between parental smoking and CHD are limited, biological evidence supports the concept that cigarette smoking may substantially contribute to the aetiology of CHD through induction of either male and female germ-cell mutation or interference with epigenetic pathways. Further research is needed to better define the relationship between parental smoking and the risk of heart defects as well as to assess parental – fetal gene-smoking interactions.
Keywords: Congenital heart defects, parental smoking, pathogenesis
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