A mother raising a child with a major birth defect may face a higher risk of dying early compared with a mother whose child doesn’t have a birth defect, Danish research suggests.
But, the researchers added, the risk of early death was “marginal.”
The finding is based on a review involving more than 455,000 mothers. Some had given birth to children with single- or multiple-organ birth defects, including genetic conditions, such as heart or kidney disease, and/or structural anomalies, such as a cleft palate.
“It’s important to say that young women just don’t die very frequently,” stressed study lead author Dr. Eyal Cohen. He’s a physician in the department of pediatrics with The Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto in Ontario.
“So yes, it’s true, we did find that a young woman raising a child with a birth defect would be 27 percent more likely to die than otherwise,” he said.
“But the absolute risk that such a mother will die is still marginal,” Cohen added. “It’s like if you move from New York to Florida: your risk of dying in a hurricane will go up, yes, but it’s still very unlikely that you’ll die in a hurricane.”
The study authors noted that between 2 percent and 5 percent of all children born in the United States and Europe have a major birth defect.