The Surprisingly Common World of Congenital Heart Defect


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The surprisingly common world of

Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)

Imagine coming into the world not being able to live

  • • Congenital heart defects is the leading cause of birth-defect related death
  • • 1% of children are born with a CHD (40,000 babies in the U.S. per year)
  • • 1/3 of infants born with a CHD need life-saving treatment in their first year of life.
  • • The median age of CHD related deaths is 1 year old.
  • • Today more than 1 million American adults are living with a CHD


  • 85-90%= unknown
  • 5-6%=Chromosome abnormality
  • 3-5%=Single Gene Defects
  • 2%= environmental factors

Most CHD’s have no known cause, but there are several contributing risk factors.

Risk factors

  • Rubella during pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Certain Prescriptions (check with your doctor)
  • Drinking Alcohol during pregnancy
  • Father’s exposed to pesticides and heavy chemicals at workplace


  • About 1 % of all children are born with CHD, but the risk increases if it’s in the family.
  • • If two siblings have a CHD, their new sibling has a 5 – 10% chance of having one.
  • • If one sibling has a CHD, his/her new sibling has a 1.5 – 5% chance of having one.
  • • If a mother has a CHD, her new baby has a 2.5 – 18% chance of having one.
  • • If a father has a CHD, his new baby has a 1.5 – 3% chance of having one.

Types of congenital heart defects

A normal heart is a double pump:

one for oxygen-poor blood (from body to lungs)
one for oxygen-rich blood (from lungs to body)

CHD’s are abnormalities in the walls, valves, arteries or veins of the heart that disrupts this sys-tem, resulting in oxygen-poor blood to the body or not enough blood to the body.

Pulmonary Stenosis

The pulmonary valve narrows, making the right ventricle work harder to pump blood.
Treatment: Cardiac catheterization involves enlarging the valve with the inflation of a balloon.
Mortality rate: A very large majority of patients live.
Incidence Rate: 400/100,000 births

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome

The left ventricle, and related parts are underdeveloped. The body cannot pump enough oxy-genated blood.
Treatment: Three part reconstructive surgery, or heart transplant.
Mortality rate: At world class facility: 7% for standard risk cases. 43% for high risk cases.
Incidence Rate:250/100,000 births

Truncus Arteriosus

A hole in the vessels leading out of the heart makes for one passage instead of two. Oxygen-ated and un-oxygenated blood mix, leaving blood without enough oxygen for the body.
Treatment:Early surgical repair.
Mortality Rate:90% of untreated individuals die within a year. 50% of treated infants die.
Incidence rate:3/100,000 births

Atrial Septal Defect

An abnormal opening between the heart’s upper chambers. Mixing oxygenated and un-oxygenated blood.
Treatment: Cardiac catheterization, medicine, or naturally heals.
Mortality rate:With treatment: 12% by mid-life.
Incidence rate:7/100,000 births

Tetrology of Fallout

A combination of four other types of CHD.
Treatment:early life open-heart repair surgery.
Mortality rate:50% of untreated children by age 6.
Incidence Rate:39/100,000 births

Side Efects

Side efects showing up later in life:

  • • Physical growth/stature issues
  • • Motor skill abnormalities
  • • Anxiety
  • • Depression

Survival rates have increased thanks to these
top ranked pediatric cardiology and heart surgery units:

1.) Boston Children’s Hospital
2.) Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
3.) Texas Children’s Hospital
4.) Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
5.) Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
6.) University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
7.) Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
8.) New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley-Komansky Children’s Hospital
9.) Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
10.) Nationwide Children’s Hospital
11.) Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
12.) Children’s Hospital Colorado
13.) Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
14.) St. Louis Children’s Hospital-Washington University
15.) Seattle Children’s Hospital
16.) Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital
17.) Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center
18.) UCSF BeniofChildren’s Hospital
19.) Children’s Medical Center Dallas
20.) John Hopkins Children’s Center