Congenital Heart Defects

Exams and Tests


Several tests can be used to help determine whether a baby or child has a congenital heart disease. These may include:

Fetal echocardiogram (during pregnancy): This test shows moving pictures of a baby’s heart and how it is working as early as 16-18 weeks into pregnancy. It is usually used if congenital heart disease runs in your family, or if there are other factors that make a heart problem more likely.

Pulse oximetry: This simple and painless test measures how much oxygen is in the baby’s blood. In many states, it is a standard screening test for newborns to help detect possible problems. 

After a full physical exam and if a heart issue is suspected, other tests may be ordered for the baby or child and may include: 

  • Echocardiogram
  • ECG 
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Cardiac stress test

A pediatric or fetal cardiologist is in the best position to diagnose a congenital heart defect and recommend treatment.

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Published: August 2017
Medical Reviewers: Elisa Bradley, MD, FACC; Tabitha G. Moe, MD, FACC

Infographic: Congenital Heart Defects

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