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ECGs Often Abnormal in Infants of Autoimmune Women

However, congenital heart block is rare

MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities are common in infants of mothers with autoimmune diseases, while congenital heart block is rare, according to the results a study in the August issue of Rheumatology.

Pier L. Meroni, M.D., from the University of Milan in Italy, and colleagues determined the prevalence of congenital heart block and electrocardiographic abnormalities in the fetuses/infants of 60 anti-SSA/Ro-positive women and 36 anti-SSA/Ro-negative women with various autoimmune diseases, as well as 200 healthy control infants.

The researchers found that one fetus from an anti-Ro-positive mother developed congenital heart block at 20 weeks' gestation and another developed second-degree atrioventricular (AV) block at 30 weeks' gestation. Significantly more infants of anti-Ro-positive women had transient first-degree AV block compared with healthy controls.

The investigators also found that infants from the anti-Ro-positive and anti-Ro-negative mothers had a similar prevalence of corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation, but significantly higher than control infants. The ECG also showed that 59 percent of infants of anti-Ro-positive mothers and 60 percent of infants of anti-Ro-negative mothers showed QTc prolongation.

"This prospective study confirms the low occurrence of congenital heart block in newborns from anti-Ro-positive mothers," Meroni and colleagues conclude. "ECG abnormalities (first degree AV block and QTc interval prolongation) are frequent in infants of mothers with autoimmune diseases, independently of maternal disease, autoantibody profile and treatment during pregnancy."

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