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Our hearts keep us going. They require regular care and attention to make sure we can live each day to its fullest — and the same is true when it comes to children. A baby’s heartbeat is the soundtrack of their life, always keeping time as they grow each day. But sometimes, with no fault to their mothers or themselves, babies’ hearts don’t grow quite right in the womb, and they need special care and attention as they grow.
What Are Congenital Heart Defects?
Congenital heart disease is the term used to describe the variety of heart defects that a baby could be born with and carry with them into adulthood. A congenital heart defect is any heart abnormality that a baby develops in the womb.
By the eighth week of pregnancy, a baby's heart is fully formed. Congenital heart defects happen during these first eight weeks. The heart develops in a series of steps, and problems can occur when one of these steps doesn’t happen at the right time. It could mean instead of a dividing wall in the heart, there’s a hole, or where two blood vessels should be, there’s only one.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect and, most importantly, they’re treatable with the compassionate care offered every day at AdventHealth for Children.
What Causes Congenital Heart Disease?
Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear what causes congenital heart defects. New mothers might be nervous that it’s the result of something they did or didn’t do during pregnancy, but in most cases, there’s no identifiable cause.
Do Congenital Heart Defects Heal on Their Own?
Congenital heart problems can be simple or complex, and they might heal on their own or, in many cases, need treatment. A baby’s doctor may monitor the heart’s growth and prescribe medicines as needed. Other babies may need surgery, sometimes within the first few hours after birth.
In some cases, a baby may outgrow of some of the simpler heart problems, such as patent ductus arteriosus or an atrial septal defect. These defects may simply close on their own as the baby grows. Other babies might have a combination of heart problems and require several operations throughout their lives.
Doctors Dedicated to Healing Congenital Heart Disease
Babies who have congenital heart problems can receive the treatment they need from specialists called pediatric cardiologists. These doctors diagnose heart defects and help children stay healthy before and after surgery for congenital heart disease.
The Importance of Regular Checkups
Although some severe heart defects may be obvious at birth, many babies and children can be born with a heart defect and appear completely normal. Some heart defects may not impact the child until they are older, but they would benefit from early detection and treatment. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to attend regular checkups with your child’s pediatrician.
A physician may detect signs of a heart defect that aren’t immediately noticeable by a parent or by the child. Should a heart issue be discovered, the quicker it can be treated, the more likely your child is to continue living a healthy, long life.
If you notice that your child has poor growth or development, he/she gets tired quicker than other kids their age, has breathing issues with no known cause or unusual symptoms such as chest pain, funny/fast heartbeats or passing out, these could all be signs of a possible heart defect and should be discussed with your child’s doctor right away.
Pediatric Heart Care You Can Count On
For parents, learning your child has a congenital heart defect can be challenging in more ways than one. That’s why at AdventHealth for Children, we know how important it is for every parent to feel confident that their child is receiving the best and most compassionate care available. From before a diagnosis to well beyond, we’re here for you and your family. Learn more about pediatric heart and vascular care at AdventHealth for Children.