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Hot weather during pregnancy may increase risk of congenital cataracts

A study showed that a 5-degree increase in apparent temperature during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of congenital cataracts. Apparent temperature is a universal measurement that uses temperature, humidity, and other factors to account for how hot it actually feels. Increasing apparent temperature heightens a mother‚Äôs body temperature, similar to the effects of a fever. Prior studies have shown that this change in body temperature during fetal development can lead to various abnormalities, including neural tube defects and abdominal wall defects. The most significant association between higher apparent temperature and incidence of congenital cataracts occurred during gestational weeks 4 to 7, when the fetal is developing. Other measurements of hotter weather during pregnancy, such as number of heat waves, were also associated with increased risk of congenital cataracts. Congenital cataracts occur in only 3 out of every 10,000 births, but can be extremely detrimental. They can lead to permanent blindness if not surgically removed because the infant cannot receive the proper stimuli during visual pathway development that leads to normal sight. This study shows that extremely hot weather can be of potential danger to developing fetuses, and measures may need to be taken to accurately warn pregnant women of these risks.*  

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