Facts and who is at risk to have a child with a Congenital Heart Defect?

Rubella German measles causing rubella during pregnancy can lead to development of problems in heart development in a baby.

Out of 1,000 births, at least 8 babies will have some form of congenital heart disorder, most of which are mild. If you or other family members have already had a baby with a heart defect, your risk of having a baby with a heart defect may be higher. Several congenital heart defects result from problems early in a child’s heart development, the cause of which is not identified. However, certain environmental and genetic risk factors may play an important role. Individuals who have a personal or family history of CHD have a high risk of a heart defect happening again in the family. For most people, the risk of having another child with a congenital heart defect ranges from 3-5%. Few congenital heart defects in children are simple and don’t require treatment. Other congenital heart defects in children are more difficult and may require several surgeries performed over a period of several years. However, certain environmental and genetic risk factors may play a role. CHDs are the most common cause of infant death due to birth defects.

Approximately 25% of children born with a CHD will require  heart surgery or other interventions to survive.

Serious congenital heart defects usually become evident soon after birth or during the first few months of life. Signs and symptoms could include:

  • Pale gray or blue skin color .
  • Fast  breathing
  • Swelling in the legs abdomen or spread around the eyes
  • Shortness of breath during feedings, leading to bad  weight gain

Less serious congenital heart defects may not be diagnosed until later in childhood, because your child may not have any noticeable signs of a problem. If signs and symptoms are evident in older children, they may include:

  • Easily becoming short of breath during exercise or activity
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Fainting during exercise or activity
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet

Serious congenital heart defects are often diagnosed before or soon after your child is born.

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