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What Causes Congenital Heart Disease

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Congenital Heart disease is usually diagnosed at birth and can last up to adulthood. It is caused by developmental problems in the function and structure of the heart of the embryo during pregnancy. As it disrupts the blood flowing through the heart, the breathing can also be affected. The good thing is, advancement in technology and medical care made it possible for infants suffering from congenital disease, to grow up into healthy adults.

Cause of congenital heart disease

A congenital heart defect causes congenital heart disease, although the terms are often used interchangeably. According to statistics, one in every 125 born babies suffer from congenital heart defect in the United States alone. It is even considered as the most common birth defect infants suffer from.

Although there are still no conclusions as to what really causes congenital heart disease, doctors believe that genetics play a big role in it. If one of the family members suffer from it, chances are, the disease may be passed down to the next generation.

The medications a pregnant woman has taken during her pregnancy can also increase the risk, so care should be taken when taking medicines during pregnancy. The first trimester, especially, is the most sensitive period of pregnancy. Any viral infection incurred during this time can also increase chances of congenital heart disease in babies. Drug and alcohol abuse should also be avoided at all costs.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

Ultrasounds can detect congenital heart and doctors conduct further investigations the instant they hear abnormalities like heart murmur. If a proper diagnosis is already made, doctors prepare by ensuring an appropriate specialist is present during delivery. Early symptoms may include bluish skin, lips, toes and fingers, and trouble in breathing. Infants born with congenital heart disease also have small birth weight and delayed growth, as well as low oxygen levels.

Treatment of congenital heart diseases

Treating congenital heart defects depend on the severity and type of the disease. While there are infants with mild heart defects that can heal in time, there are also some that require medications and even a major surgery, such as open heart surgeries or heart transplant.

Treatment may start during infancy and there are also cases where doctors will conduct procedures during adulthood because there are symptoms that only show until then. Symptoms include chest pain, early fatigue, and breathlessness, which are dealt with surgeries and medications. Unfortunately, some defects that have been treated during childhood may recur or worsen in adulthood.

Even after successful treatment of congenital heart disease, patients are still advised to visit their cardiologist for follow-ups. Procedures done aren’t even treatment for the defect, but just a repair to help patients live their life normally. Complications such as heart infections and failure, stroke, and high blood pressure, are much higher in patients who’ve suffered from congenital heart disease.


Pregnant women should take extra precautions to decrease the risk of their babies suffering from congenital heart defect. It’s also advisable to consult with doctors about medications taken during pregnancy, so as not to affect the embryo and its developmet.


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