Circulation. 2012 Sep 18;126(12):1469-77. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.069161. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Baruteau AE, Behaghel A, Fouchard S, Mabo P, Schott JJ, Dina C, Chatel S, Villain E, Thambo JB, Marçon F, Gournay V, Rouault F, Chantepie A, Guillaumont S, Godart F, Martins RP, Delasalle B, Bonnet C, Fraisse A, Schleich JM, Lusson JR, Dulac Y, Daubert JC, Le Marec H, Probst V.



The origin of congenital or childhood nonimmune isolated atrioventricular (AV) block remains unknown. We hypothesized that this conduction abnormality in the young may be a heritable disease.


A multicenter retrospective study (13 French referral centers, from 1980-2009) included 141 children with AV block diagnosed in utero, at birth, or before 15 years of age without structural heart abnormalities and without maternal antibodies. Parents and matched control subjects were investigated for family history and for ECG screening. In parents, a family history of sudden death or progressive cardiac conduction defect was found in 1.4% and 11.1%, respectively. Screening ECGs from 130 parents (mean age 42.0 ± 6.8 years, 57 couples) were compared with those of 130 matched healthy control subjects. All parents were asymptomatic and in sinus rhythm, except for 1 with undetected complete AV block. Conduction abnormalities were more frequent in parents than in control subjects, found in 50.8% versus 4.6%, respectively (P<0.001). A long PR interval was found in 18.5% of the parents but never in control subjects (P<0.0001). Complete or incomplete right bundle-branch block was observed in 39.2% of the parents and 1.5% of the control subjects (P<0.0001). Complete or incomplete left bundle-branch block was found in 15.4% of the parents and 3.1% of the control subjects (P<0.0006). Estimated heritability for isolated conduction disturbances was 91% (95% confidence interval, 80%-100%). SCN5A mutation screening identified 2 mutations in 2 patients among 97 children.


ECG screening in parents of children affected by idiopathic AV block revealed a high prevalence of conduction abnormalities. These results support the hypothesis of an inheritable trait in congenital and childhood nonimmune isolated AV block.