Congenital Heart Defects
As previously mentioned, congenital heart defects are problems with the structure of the heart and major blood vessels near the heart. These defects can involve:
- The heart’s valves
- The interior walls of the heart
- Major arteries and veins that enter and exit the heart
Congenital heart defects are among the most common types of birth defects. In the United States they affect 0.8% of the newborns, meaning that every year 35,000 babies are born with heart defects.
For the most part these defects do not require treatment and can only be discovered using special tools. However, some babies are born with serious congenital heart defects and require immediate treatment right after birth.
Over the past few decades our ability to detect and treat heart defects has improved greatly. As a result, the majority of children survive to adulthood, even if they had complex heart defects.