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Congenital heart defects are structural heart problems or
abnormalities that have been present since birth.
Congenital heart defects usually have no known cause. In some
cases, they may be passed from a parent to a child (inherited). They also may
occur in the developing baby (fetus) of a woman who has an infection or who is
exposed to radiation or other toxic substances during her pregnancy.
Having a congenital heart defect increases the risk for complications, such as heart failure, endocarditis, atrial fibrillation, and
heart valve problems.
Most congenital heart defects are detected shortly after birth,
although some are not discovered for years. Some defects are severe enough to
cause death. Some resolve on their own and may not need any treatment. Babies
with large or complex defects usually require surgery. Many children with
corrected heart defects go on to lead normal lives. But they usually require
lifelong monitoring of their condition.
October 11, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
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