Influence of chronic intrauterine exposure to alcohol on structurally normal hearts
Abuse of alcohol during pregnancy is known to cause alcoholic embryopathy and congenital cardiac disease. We sought to establish if there were any cardiac abnormalities to be found in patients known to have alcoholic embryopathy, but with structurally normal hearts. We reviewed the electrocardiograms and echocardiographic data of 347 such patients without congenital cardiac disease. A shortened QT interval was found in half of the cases. The left ventricular diameter was small in one quarter of all patients, independent from age, gender, and the degree of alcoholic embryopathy. We conclude that intrauterine exposure to alcohol as a primary toxin can lead to minor cardiac abnormalities, even in the absence of structural congenital cardiac disease.(Accepted May 31 2006)
Key Words: Embryo; cardiac development; echocardiography; QT interval.
c1 Correspondence to: Thomas Krasemann, MD, Evelina Children's Hospital, St. Thomas Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 20 7188 4562; Fax: +44 20 7188 4556; E-mail: Thomas.Krasemann@gstt.nhs.uk