Congenital heart defects are problems in the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Approximately 1 in every 100 newborns has these defects, which can range from mild to severe.
The defects occur when there is incomplete or abnormal development of the fetus’ heart during the very early weeks of pregnancy. Some are known to be associated with genetic disorders, but the cause of most congenital heart defects is unknown. Although these can’t be prevented, many treatments are available for the defects as well as any related health problems.
Some congenital heart defects cause serious symptoms right at birth, requiring newborn intensive care in the hospital and immediate evaluation by a cardiologist. Other defects, like atrial septal defects, may go undiagnosed until the teen, or even adult, years. Learn more about congenital heart defects.