Congenital means present at birth, therefore congenital heart defects are heart conditions that a baby is born with. These conditions range from mild to serious and are the most common types of defects that affect babies at birth.
CHD Awareness is important because birth defects are structural changes present at birth. Babies born with these heart defects can majorly struggle to live normally, but with support, they can go on to live healthy lives. Without this treatment, it is extremely difficult.
Around 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect in the United States each year. This is about 1%, which is 40,000 babies. 1 in 4 babies that are born with a heart defect has a critical form of CHD. Some heart defects do not need treatment, while others can be treated more easily. Some need surgeries over several years.
- Congenital heart defects are also called CHDs. They are heart conditions that a baby is born with.
- The most serious congenital heart defects are called critical congenital heart defects.
- Babies with critical CHDs always need surgery or other treatment within the first year of life.
- Without treatment, critical CHDs can be deadly.
- Almost every state requires babies to be checked for critical CHDs at birth.
- If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, smoking and drinking alcohol may increase the chances of your baby being born with CHD.
Heart defects can affect different parts of your baby’s heart. These parts of the heart may include:
- Heart chambers: Because the heart has four chambers, including the two upper chambers which receive blood, and the two lower chambers which pump blood out, these can be affected. Sometimes they reverse their roles which cause major issues.
- Septum: This is a wall that separates the right and left sides of the heart. With the wall between the chambers, without this, it causes major issues.
- Heart valves: These valves open and close to control blood flow. Without them, the blood will not be moved to the right parts of the body.
- Arteries and veins near the heart: Arteries are blood vessels carrying blood away from the heart, with a CHD, this can generate serious issues.
Some heart defects can affect blood flow, which might cause the baby’s blood to slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, even be blocked, or not have enough oxygen to carry throughout the body. These issues can cause fluid in the lungs, and make it hard for your baby to breathe. Knowing about these problems before giving birth can give your baby a better chance for the future.