Understanding congenital birth defects
Expecting parents often approach monthly checkups with a combination of anticipation and anxiety.
Seeing a little one moving around and growing inside of mom is a feeling unlike any other. But such visits also can uncover issues, including congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart defects or diseases are defined as problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. These defects can change the normal flow of blood to the heart, which may cause it to slow down, be blocked or go in the wrong direction.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect.
The Mayo Clinic says that defects can range from simple issues that might cause no noticeable problems to complex conditions that can be life-threatening. Many doctors are able to diagnose defects during pregnancy or soon after birth using special cardiac testing. Examples of problems can include an atrial septal defect, a ventricular septal defect and a patent ductus arteriosus.
Many of the defects are characterized by holes or openings in the heart. Some defects resolve on their own. Others may require surgery or cardiac catheterization.
Researchers say that, while they do not fully understand why congenital heart defects occur, the risk of having a baby with one is influenced by family history, genetics and exposure to certain environmental factors during pregnancy. Children also may be at greater risk if their mothers have diabetes, rubella or phenylketonuria. Boys have a slightly higher risk for congenital heart defects than girls.
NHLBI advises that advances in diagnosis and treatment allow most children with congenital heart diseases to survive to adulthood.
However, even if a congenital heart defect was repaired in childhood, one needs regular medical follow-ups throughout life to maintain good health. Follow-up care includes routine visits with a cardiologist, heart-healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active within recommendations designed for the specific heart anomaly.
It’s important to note that some children can experience developmental delays and lower body weight due to heart defects.
Congenital heart defects are somewhat common. Thanks to advanced screening and thorough treatment methods, many children born with such defects go on to lead long lives.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
A hernia is a common problem where internal pressure can cause tissue to bulge through a weak spot in the muscle, most commonly in the abdomen or groin area. Family history of hernias or prior…