Is Hyperthermia Teratogenic in the Human?

B. B. Little, F. E. Ghali, L. M. Snell, K. A. Knoll, W. Johnston, L. C. Gilstrap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Maternal hyperthermia during embryogenesis has been postulated to cause a variety of major congenital anomalies in exposed offspring. Although the literature regarding human exposures is not conclusive, studies using animal models support the contention that major structural anomalies may be produced. In the present study, pregnancy outcome of a cohort of women who reported having a temperature of 101öF or higher for 24 hours or more during the first trimester was compared to a control group of women (matched on last menstrual period, parity, and age) who denied having a fever. A statistically significant increased frequency of a specific type of congenital anomaly, abdominal wall defects, was found in offspring whose mothers had sustained high temperatures during embryogenesis. Although an increased risk of this type of congenital anomaly is not consistent with previous epidemiologic studies, similar defects of this organ system have been reported in offspring of pregnant nonhuman primates (monkeys) and rodents (guinea pigs) who experienced hyperthermia during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-189
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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