Congenital Heart Defects

Monday, January 17, 2011

According to the March of Dimes, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect. In the United States alone, more than 25,000 babies are born each year with a congenital heart defect. That translates to one out of every 115 to 150 births. Dr. Edward Hill looks at congenital heart defects in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Congenital heart defects are structural problems that develop in the heart before a baby is born or at birth. Heart defects may include abnormally formed valves or blood vessels, abnormal or missing connections between arteries or veins and the heart chambers, or holes between the chambers.

As a result of these abnormalities, the supply of blood and oxygen to the baby is limited, which can lead to cyanosis or heart failure. Abnormally shaped heart valves can lead to complications such as narrowed or leaky heart valves or irregular heartbeats.

The cause of congenital heart defects can be genetic or environmental, but the cause of most defects is unknown. Heart defects occur more commonly in premature infants whose heart and lung anatomy are not mature enough to adjust to life outside the womb.

Congenital heart defects are often apparent at birth but sometimes may not become evident until adolescence or adulthood. The problems that result can range from minor to serious, and some are life-threatening.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.