Congenital Heart Defects Affect Thousands - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Congenital Heart Defects Affect Thousands

Here's a startling statistic from the American Heart Association: congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting one in every 100 infants born each year in the United States.

Since heart disease affects infants, toddlers and young children, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, February 7–14, was created by the Congenital Heart Information Network (CHIN) to heighten awareness of this condition. Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is intended to coincide with American Heart Month in February.

An estimated 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects (CHDs) in the U.S. each year. Nearly 1,800 infants with CHD die each year.

What is CHD? Early in a pregnancy, for unknown reasons, a baby's heart may not form properly, resulting in structural abnormalities. Although some babies are diagnosed with CHD at birth, newborns aren't routinely screened. The consequences of a late diagnosis can have serious, lifelong implications. CHD is the most common birth defect and the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. Signs and symptoms in an infant can include:

  •  Tiring easily during feeding, including falling asleep before feeding finishes
  •  Sweating around the head, especially during feeding
  •  Fast breathing while resting or sleeping
  •  Pale or bluish skin color
  •  Poor weight gain
  •  Excessive sleep - not playful or curious for any length of time
  •  Puffy face, hands, and/or feet
  •  Frequent irritability and difficult to console

Testing for CHD is available, and the process is painless and inexpensive. Pulse oximetry (Pulse Ox) testing has been recommended for inclusion in the newborn screening program by leading groups such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American College of Cardiology.

For more information on CHDs including signs and symptoms in older children, talk to your health care professional or visit

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