Congenital means present from birth. So, congenital heart defects refers to a number of different conditions that can occur when a baby's heart is forming or at birth. As a result, the heart—or the major vessels in and around the heart—may not develop or work the way they should.
Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect. Nearly 1 out of 100 babies are born with some sort of structural heart defect, affecting about 40,000 infants a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These problems cause more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Some examples of congenital heart disease are atrial septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and aortic stenosis.
But, there is good news. More babies are surviving thanks to advances in treating many of these problems. Although most defects are found during pregnancy by ultrasound or in early childhood, some defects aren't discovered until adulthood. More than 1 million adults in the United States are living with congenital heart disease today.
If you or your child have a heart defect, it can be very scary. But there are a number of treatment options depending on the type of defect and the symptoms. It's important to find a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects and get support. Use this condition center to learn more about congenital heart defects. You can also chat online with others like you and keep up with the latest research.