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Heat exposure induced risks of preterm birth mediated by maternal hypertension.

Nature Medicine 2024 May 16
Heat exposure is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth (PTB), with previous work suggesting that maternal blood pressure may play a role in these associations. Here we conducted a cohort study of 197,080 singleton live births across 8 provinces in China from 2015 to 2018. The study first estimated the associations between heat exposure, maternal hypertension and clinical subtypes of PTB, and then quantified the role of maternal hypertension in heat and PTB using mediation analyses. We show that heat exposure (>85th, 90th and 95th percentiles of local temperature distributions) spanning from conception to the 20th gestational week was associated with a 15-21% increase in PTB, and a 20-22% increase in medically indicated PTB. Heat exposure is likely to increase the risk of maternal hypertension and elevated blood pressure. Maternal hypertension mediated 15.7% and 33.9% of the effects of heat exposure (>90th percentile) on PTB and medically indicated PTB, respectively. Based on this large-population study, we found that exposure to heat in early pregnancy can increase the risk of maternal hypertension, thereby affecting the incidence of PTB.

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