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Seasonal link to heart defect

DOCTORS have found that babies born between April and July are more likely to have a certain heart defect, and they believe a common infection such as strep throat may play a role.

The condition, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, affects the left side of the heart and usually needs at least three operations to reconstruct it.

Doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in the US state of Ohio studied 1,500 newborns from 38 children's hospitals in the country who had left-sided congenital heart diseases between 1996 and 2006.

They found a clear seasonal pattern to hypoplastic left heart syndrome but not other diseases, they told a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Orlando.

"Strong seasonality is a clue that environmental factors may play an important role in this disease, as we see, for example, with such common childhood illnesses as asthma and croup," Dr Pirooz Eghtesady said.

Doctors at the hospital are now conducting a study to see whether strep throat, an infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria, may be to blame.


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