This week marked Congenital Heart Defect Week. Each year more than 32,000 children are born with some kind of heart defect, and some are so slight that symptoms don’t appear until well into adulthood.
A congenital heart defect happens when the heart doesn’t form properly in a fetus and a baby is born with an imperfection, .
In the first 30 days after conception, the heart is forming in the fetus, and if it doesn’t hold the exact framework it needs to function properly, this is when trouble sets in. Defects can disrupt the flow of blood through the heart, making the blood travel too slowly, leading it in the wrong direction, or stopping its flow completely.
What causes it? The root of the problem is often unknown, but there are some factors that can lead to an increased risk of your baby developing a heart defect.
These include the mother contracting a viral infection like rubella (German Measles) during the first three months of pregnancy, taking medication for bipolar disorder, acne and seizures, drinking alcohol during pregnancy, smoking, using cocaine, and suffering from diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU) or a folic acid deficiency.
It’s true that some people are also more likely to give birth to a baby with heart defects simply due to their genetic makeup.
Babies with Down’s Syndrome also display a much higher rate of congenital heart defects than others.
If you notice your child has skin with a bluish tint, is short of breath, tires out when feeding or isn’t gaining weight as they should, talk to your doctor immediately.
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