What are CHD’s {Congenital Heart Defects}

What are CHD’s {Congenital Heart Defects}

what are chds

Congenital Heart Defects {CHD’s} are the number one birth defect, affecting roughly 1 in 100 children according to the CDC.

Congenital Heart Defects are structural issues in the heart that are present at birth. CHD’s range in severity from mild to severe. Severe defects are known as Critical Congenital Heart Defects {CCHD’s}. According to the CDC 1 in 4 babies born with a CHD will have a Critical Congenital Heart Defect – this means they will need at least one open heart surgery or other invasive procedure before their first birthday. Many will need multiple surgical interventions before they reach adulthood. Congenital Heart Defects are the leading cause of birth defect related death in children.  Approximately 40,000 babies are born every year with a CHD in the US alone.


The CDC states that there is no known cause of Congenital Heart Defects, while some environmental factors are believed to contribute to CHD’s there is no known definitive cause. Stanford Children’s tells us that while they know some types of congenital heart defects can be related to an abnormality in the number of an infant’s chromosomes, single gene defects, or environmental factors – in most cases there is still no identifiable cause of the mutation.


Although heart defects are the number one cause of death in birth defect related deaths in newborns, advances in medical care over the past few decades have significantly increased the survival rates of children affected by CHD’s. The CDC tells us that while some Congenital Heart Defects do not require intervention many children will require Open Heart Surgery {OHS} or a catheterization. A cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a long tube, called a catheter, is threaded through a blood vessels into the heart. Then a doctor can take measurements and pictures, do tests, or repair the problem. Sometimes the heart defect can’t be fully repaired, but these procedures can improve blood flow and the way the heart works.

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