The word "congenital" means existing at birth. The terms "congenital heart defect" and "congenital heart disease" are often used to mean the same thing, but "defect" is more accurate.
The heart ailment is a defect or abnormality, not a disease. A defect results when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don't develop normally before birth. Working with your healthcare team, learn about the different types of congenital heart defects, treatments and tests. Source: American Heart Association
- Congenital Heart Defects are the #1 birth defect, affecting 1 out of every 100 births
- Every 13 minutes, a child is born with a heart defect
- Heart defects take more than double the number of lives that all forms of childhood cancers combined
- Heart defects are the leading cause of death within the first year of life
Severe heart disease generally becomes evident during the first few months after birth. Some babies are blue or have very low blood pressure shortly after birth. Other defects cause breathing difficulties, feeding problems, or poor weight gain. Minor defects are most often diagnosed on a routine medical check up. Minor defects rarely cause symptoms. While most heart murmurs in children are normal, some may be due to defects.
If the heart problem is significant, your child's pediatrician or family physician will likely refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist. Pediatric cardiologists are trained to diagnose and treat heart problems in infants, children and young adults. They have the training and equipment to find out what tests and treatments your child will need, and how often your child will need heart checkups in the future.
Educate Yourself Further
A normal heart has valves, arteries and chambers that carry the blood in a circulatory pattern: body-heart-lungs-heart-body. When all chambers and valves work correctly, the blood is pumped through the heart, to the lungs for oxygen, back the heart and out to the body for delivery of oxygen.
When valves, chambers, arteries and veins are malformed, this circulation pattern can be impaired. Congenital heart defects are malformations that are present at birth. They may or may not have a disruptive effect on a person's circulatory system.
Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth. They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as "holes" between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves.
Having a congenital heart defect can also increase your risk of developing certain medical conditions.
Source: American Heart Association
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