India warns of incidence of congenital heart disease

New Delhi, Oct 1 (Prensa Latina) Congenital heart disease (CHD), which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA recognizes as the most common congenital disease, is responsible for 28% of all congenital birth defects and accounts for 6-10% of all infant deaths in India.

Pediatricians have claimed that early medical intervention could save 75% of coronary children and give them a normal life, The Hindu newspaper noted. But the country lacks comprehensive pediatric cardiovascular care services, and a shortage of specialists and infrastructure in the public and private sectors hampers the future of children with coronary illnesses.

The absence of a national policy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease in children keeps a large number of infants outside the reach of treatment.

According to the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India, coronary heart disease is 1 in 100 live births; that is, 200,000 children are born each year with congenital heart disease and only 15,000 of them are treated.

At least 30% of children with coronary heart disease need surgery to survive until their first birthday, but only 2,500 operations can be performed each year.

At India’s premier institute of medical sciences, newborn babies are on the waiting list until 2026 for heart surgery.

India has 22 hospitals and less than 50 centers with infant and neonatal cardiology departments. Geographically speaking, these centers are poorly distributed since the south of the country concentrates 70% of these units.

Besides the low number of pediatric cardiologists and heart surgeons and intensive care centers, poverty is another barrier to receiving treatment. Meanwhile, transporting coronary newborns from few or no cardiac care centers to distant centers for accurate diagnosis and treatment places a financial burden on parents.

Additionally, essential equipment to diagnose heart disease in fetuses by fetal echocardiography is not available.

Pediatricians say prenatal detection of coronary artery disease is crucial for neonatal care and treatment.