What is the life expectancy for a child with a congenital heart defect?

Medical improvements and treatment plans have increased the life expectancy of children born with congenital heart disease. With congenital heart disease treatment, support, and care, babies born with congenital heart defects are able to live longer and healthier lives.

It’s important to recognize all the care options when it comes to raising a child with CHD – or if you are living with a congenital heart defect as an adult person. Keep reading to review more important facts regarding congenital heart disease and types of care for congenital heart defects. 

Reviewing Key Facts 

Unfortunately, there is no current tracking system that calculates the number of adults in the U.S. with congenital heart defects. This makes it difficult to assess the overall life expectancy and growing population of congenital heart disease patients. 

However, many individual state programs and studies do track congenital heart defects found in infants, young children, and some adults. These numbers help estimate the most common congenital heart defects, their effects on newborns and children, and other critical information like survival rates. 

Researchers collected estimates from a few different databases in their studies, like the U.S. Census, Canadian administrative healthcare system, and state-wide healthcare systems. According to the CDC, one estimated study found over 2 million people living with a congenital heart defect in the U.S. in 2010, with over half of this number being adults living with CHDs. 

  • Nearly 40 thousand babies are born with a congenital heart defect each year. This accounts for about 1% of births in the U.S. 
  • The most common type of CHD is ventricular heart defect, but other mild types of CHDs are increasing compared to the number of births each year.
  • Critical CHDs occur in 1 of 4 births, requiring surgery or procedures in the infant’s first year. 
  • Medical care for CHDs continues to improve, so the survival rate of critical CHDs is improving, as well. 83% of infants born with a critical CHD between the years of 1994 and 2005 survived to one year. Around 70% of infants born with critical CHDs are now expected to survive to adulthood. Non-critical CHD infants have around a 90% chance of survival to adulthood.

Care for CHD Infants

For infants born with a mild to severe congenital heart defect, there are improved treatment options available. These include surgeries and heart procedures, medications, and other healthcare options. However, even though a heart defect can be repaired shortly after birth, there is no permanent cure for CHD. Heart complications often occur later in life, and some require lifelong care and support.  
Conquering CHD helps provide resources, support, and community for those impacted by congenital heart disease. Visit our website for more ways to get involved.

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