Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the heart's structure that are present at birth and range from mild to severe. This means that the heart may not pump blood well, beat correctly or allow blood to flow normally through its chambers or arteries. The incidence of congenital heart defects occurs in one out of every 125 newborns, approximately 35,000 children.
Almost all children with congenital heart defects grow up to have happy, active, productive lives. 1.4 million children and adults live with congenital heart defects.
The most common congenital heart defects are hypoplastic left heart syndrome, ventricular septal defect, heart murmur and arrhythmia.
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
When the structures of the left side of the heart (the left ventricle, the mitral valve and the aortic valve) are not fully developed, they're unable to pump blood adequately to the entire body. HLHS is usually diagnosed within the first few days of life, at which point the baby may be critically ill.
Fortunately, many of these infants are recognized to have serious heart disease even before birth on ultrasound tests. A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound that allows a pediatric cardiologist to see the details of baby's heart and diagnose the problem and plan the best care for when Baby is born.
Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
One of the most common congenital heart defects, ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the wall (septum) between the heart's left and right ventricles. VSD can occur at different locations and it can vary in size. Some of the smaller defects may gradually close up and not cause any problems. As a result, some oxygenated blood from the left atrium flows through the hole in the septum into the right atrium, where it mixes with oxygen-poor blood and increases the total amount of blood that flows toward the lungs. The increased blood flow to the lungs creates a swishing sound, known as a heart murmur. This heart murmur, along with other specific heart sounds that can be detected by a cardiologist, can be clues that a child has a ventricular heart defect.