Children with heart defects can live healthy lives

In the United States, nearly one in 100 babies is born with a heart defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects. Fortunately, most faults can be treated, allowing your child to live productive and fulfilling lives, according to Orlando Health.

A birth defect usually refers to a problem with the formation of the heart before birth. The development of the heart is a very complex process that mainly takes place during the first trimester of pregnancy. If the heart does not develop properly during this trimester or the remaining two trimesters, your baby will be born with a heart defect.

Sometimes a heart defect can be detected before birth via an ultrasound. Infants may be called “blue babies” at birth because of the color of their skin due to the decrease in oxygen in the blood. This can be the result of restricted blood flow to the lungs or a mixture of blood containing different levels of oxygen. Or, symptoms can occur in the first few days or weeks of life.

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Babies may feed poorly, have little weight gain, and breathe quickly. Some babies with very severe forms of congenital heart defects may experience circulatory collapse and shock in early infancy.

For other children, congenital heart disease is discovered when a routine visit to the doctor reveals a heart murmur. The vast majority of murmurs in childhood are innocent in nature and simply represent normal flow through the heart and blood vessels in the chest.

Yet some people with more subtle forms of congenital heart disease may not know they have congenital heart disease until they are older children, adolescents, or even adults. People with a heart defect usually experience shortness of breath on exertion, cyanosis (blue appearance), chest pain, murmurs, palpitations and fainting.

Treatment for congenital heart disease varies depending on your child’s particular condition. Many conditions require open heart surgery, and some may require more than one procedure as your child gets older. Fortunately, almost any condition can be treated, many using minimally invasive catheter-based procedures, and children can grow up to live normal, healthy lives.

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For more information on treatments for heart disease in children, visit ArnoldPalmerHospital.com/HealthyHearts.


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