Understanding congenital heart defects in children

About 1 in 100 babies in the U.S. are born with a heart defect

In the United States, about 40,000 newborns a year have a heart defect. That’s about 1 in 100 babies, according to Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Chief Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Surgery at Methodist Children’s Hospital.

A child is typically born with a congenital heart defect. These defects can range from a silent murmur, a hole in the heart, or even a very complex heart condition that can leave children with half a heart.

Heart care can start with a fetal diagnosis. Once the child is born, doctors will assess the disease and how significant it might be. From there, steps will be taken to render treatment.

Sharma says that at Methodist Children’s Hospital Heart Institute, this treatment continues through adulthood, meaning heart care isn’t diluted among multiple facilities, requiring travel time and multiple visits.

Sometimes congenital heart defects are not always apparent after birth. Sharma says that signs to look out for in children can be easy fatiguability, difficulty breathing, difficulty gaining weight, and blue around the lips and toes.

You can learn more about the Methodist Children’s Hospital Heart Institute and pediatric cardiac care at sahealth.com/specialties/pediatric-cardiology.