Facts About Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of death from birth defects during the first year of life.

The two types of heart disease in children are “congenital” and “acquired.” congenital heart disease (also known as a congenital heart defect) is present at birth. Some defects in this category are patent ductus arteriosis, atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects. Acquired heart disease, which develops sometime during childhood, includes diseases such as Kawasaki disease, rheumatic fever and infective endocarditis.

About 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year. Most of these children can benefit from surgery even if the defect is severe. When surgery is necessary, many medical treatments are available to help the heart work properly. There is nothing that parents could have done to prevent these defects.

At least 8 of every 1,000 infants born each year have a heart defect. About 1 million Americans with cardiovascular defects are alive today. Though research is ongoing, at least 35 defects have now been identified.