Every year, February 7th to the 14th is designated as Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) Awareness week. This annual week of recognition was created to raise awareness about CHD and to empower all patients and families affected by this condition.
Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. These defects can involve:
- The interior walls of the heart
- The valves inside the heart
- The arteries and veins that carry blood to the heart or the body
Congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defect. They affect eight out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with this condition.
There are many different forms of defects that can range from minor with no symptoms to complex with life-threatening symptoms. Minor defects often do not require any treatment or are easily fixed. However, those babies born with complex congenital heart defects require special medical care soon after birth.
Unfortunately, doctors often do not know why congenital heart defects occur. Heredity may play a role in cases. Children who have genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are often more likely to have congenital heart defects. In fact, half of all babies who have Down syndrome have congenital heart defects. Smoking during pregnancy also has been linked to several congenital heart defects.
Even though many children born with congenital heart defects do not require treatment, some do. Doctors can treat children with CHD with either catheter procedures or surgery. Thankfully, through advances in medicine, thee diagnosis and treatment of complex heart defects has greatly improved over the past few decades. As a result, almost all children who have complex heart defects survive to adulthood and can live active, productive lives.
Through continued education and support, we hope to conquer CHD.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.