Congenital Heart Defects
Facts About Heart Defect
Congenital heart defects arise when an infant’s heart fails to form properly in the womb. Defects can occur in the formation of the chambers of the heart or in the valves that facilitate blood flow as the heart beats. In addition, a heart defect can damage the blood vessels leading to and away from the heart, resulting in circulatory problems. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for these children to live happy, normal lives. Corrective surgeries can repair most heart defects. Some types of heart defects are:
- VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) is a small, moderate, or large hole in the muscle that divides the two lower chambers of the heart. Smaller holes may not pose a problem to the child and usually close on their own, but larger holes require surgery.
- • ASD (Atrial Septal Defect) is a defect that leaves a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart. This may or may not cause difficulty for the child, and a catheter inserted into the heart can close the opening. This defect does not require corrective open-heart surgery.
- PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis) occurs when the open valve that allows an unborn baby’s blood to bypass the lungs fails to close after birth. This results in a heart murmur, an extra sound when the heart beats, and it will cause shortness of breath in the infant until surgery closes the valve.
- TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot) describes a series of distinctive heart problems that result in severe shortness of breath for the infant. Immediate surgery takes place to correct these problems.
- • In SV (Single Ventricle), some children are born with a single lower chamber in the heart instead of two, resulting in poor oxygenation and shortness of breath. These infants may appear blue. The problem requires several surgeries to be corrected.
Heart Defect Challenges
- Children with heart problems may tire easily, especially during feeding. Small bottles given at frequent intervals can encourage the child to take in an adequate amount of calories.
- These children are at risk for weight loss and may require a high-calorie diet to promote proper growth. Regular medical checkups and good dental care are important to a child with heart problems.
Heart Defect Treatment
Please see above under "Facts"
- Thousands of children born with heart problems have been adopted, received necessary treatment, and are going up healthy and loved in their new families. Children with heart problems can lead normal lives with proper medical care.