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Congenital heart defect

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Any birth defect involving the structure and or function of the heart is called congenital heart defect. By definition, these affect how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body.

Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital Heart Defects

Severity

Congenital heart defects can vary from mild to severe.

  • About 1 in 4 babies born with a heart defect has a critical CHD, otherwise known as critical congenital heart defect).
  • Babies with a critical CHD need surgery or other procedures in the first year of life.

Types

Listed below are examples of different types of CHDs. The types marked with a star (^) are considered critical CHDs.

Atrial septal defect
Atrial septal defect
Depiction of a child with Congenital Heart Disease
Depiction of a child with Congenital Heart Disease

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms for CHDs depend on the type and severity of the particular defect. Some are asymptomatic.

  • Blue-tinted nails or lips
  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • Tiredness when feeding
  • Sleepiness

Diagnosis

Some CHDs may be diagnosed during pregnancy using fetal echocardiogram, while some CHDs are not detected until after birth or later in life, during childhood or adulthood.

Treatment

  • Treatment for CHDs depends on the type and severity of the defect present.
  • Some affected infants and children might need one or more surgeries to repair the heart or blood vessels.
  • Some can be treated without surgery using a procedure called cardiac catheterization.

Causes

  • The causes of CHDs among most babies are unknown.
  • Some babies have heart defects because of changes in their individual genes or chromosomes.
  • CHDs also are thought to be caused by a combination of genes and other factors, such as things in the environment, the mother’s diet, the mother’s health conditions, or the mother’s medication use during pregnancy.
  • Certain conditions a mother has, like pre-existing diabetes or obesity, have been linked to heart defects in the baby.2,3 Smoking during pregnancy as well as taking certain medications have also been linked to heart defects.

Latest research - Congenital heart defect

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