Congenital heart defects in babies

ORLANDO, Fla. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in every 100 babies has a congenital heart defect, which means they're born with a structural problem in their hearts. 

There are at least 18 types of congenital heart problems, and some of them are becoming more prevalent.

Every year, 40,000 babies in the U.S. are born with a congenital heart defect, and doctors said they're on the rise.

"Definitely, we are seeing more patients with suspected congenital heart diseases and suspected cardiac problems because there's been an increase in awareness," said Dr. Shubhika Srivastva, of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Another reason for the spike is that doctors are able to spot the problems earlier thanks to improved prenatal screening. 

What moms-to-be do during pregnancy also matters. 

Factors that can increase a baby's risk include taking certain meds during pregnancy, drinking or smoking while pregnant, having uncontrolled diabetes or a rubeola (measles) infection while pregnant and undergoing in vitro fertilization, or "IVF."

"IVF is now a new indication for screening for congenital heart disease," Srivastva said. 

Many of the defects are identified before a baby is born. But if they aren't, look out for symptoms such as gray or blue skin, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, poor feeding, little weight gain, or swelling in the legs, abdomen or around the eyes. 

Some heart defects are mild, while others require major, life-saving treatment. 

Some congenital heart defects might not be diagnosed until later in childhood or during teen years. 

Symptoms in older children can include fainting, becoming extremely short of breath, or getting very tired during exercise or physical activity. 

Swelling in the hands, feet and ankles are other possible signs.