Last week we kicked off the month by acknowledging that February was heart month and bringing awareness to heart health. Did you know that 1 out of every 100 children are born each year with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)? Read on to learn more about what a congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is, and to hear more about our story with my son’s journey.
The CDC has great information and fact sheets when it comes to CHDs. The basic definition they provide are defects of the heart present at birth, and they affect the way the baby’s heart works. It is estimated that 1 out of 100 babies are born each year with a CHD in the United States, and 1 of 4 require surgery within the first year of life. Though it is the most common birth defect, there are multiple types of Congenital Heart Defects that fall within the broad category.
A few of the most common are:
- Atrial Septal Defect
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Ventricular Septal Defect
So how are these defects found? The most common way they are discovered is at the 20-week anatomy scan that is done at your OBGYN’s office. Many moms are excited because at this appointment you often learn the gender of the child, but other very important body parts are checked out during this ultrasound. So at this scan when my doctor told me “we can not see his whole heart”. This led to a whirlwind of other appointments and follow-ups, and he was eventually diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. A few things to remember for someone who has youth with a CHD or is supporting a friend or family member.
- It is not your fault. There is no hard and fast reason why CHDs occur. There are a few potential causes linked here, but it is still a mystery.
- Go to all of your prenatal visits and scans whether a CHD has been diagnosed or not. Your doctor is always checking on your baby’s progress.
- If your child has a diagnosis be sure to follow up with appointments with a cardiologist and continued treatment as needed.
- As a friend or relative offering childcare, meals, gas cards for the drive to appointments, and lending a listening ear are wonderful ways to support.
Some CHDs are more severe than others, but children diagnosed will live with the defect the rest of their life whether it has been repaired or not. At the very least they would have follow-up cardiology appointments, while some require more intensive follow-up. The good news is most children will likely live a healthy and happy life into adulthood like our son. For others in the Newysmom tribe that do not have a child born with a CHD, you can always be a support to others.