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International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day: Pain-free Childhood

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  • Congenital heart defect (CHD) is one of the leading congenital disabilities (birth defects) that cause infant and childhood death, affecting 1 in every 100 children
  • International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day observed on 14th February annually underpins the awareness for heart defects and their prompt treatment options
  • Congenital heart defects the most severe birth defects can be forestalled with simple attention and preventive measures

February is marked as the month of heart to many in the way of Valentine's Day. However, it is observed as International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) awareness month with International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day marked on 14th February.

Every year, 1 out of every 100 children is born with heart defects, running to around 40,000 babies in the U. S. annually, as per the American Heart Association.

What is a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are abnormalities in the heart structure that affects the way the heart functions. CHDs usually develop during the first few weeks of pregnancy. CHD affects how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body.


International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day: Pain-free Childhood
International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day: Pain-free Childhood

The heart defects vary from mild (small hole in the heart) to severe (missing or poorly formed parts of the heart). Infants with a critical CHD require surgery or other related procedures in the first year of life.

Congenital heart defect (CHD) is one of the primary drivers of death during the 1st year of life. To break this ice and create reinforcement for all those struggling with the battle of CHD, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is observed from February 7th to February 14th annually.

This aids in conveying messages on early screening and diagnostic options of CHD, so that the best quality of care is rendered to the affected infants and babies. One of the ways to communicate to the public that the patients and families of CHD are not alone in their suffering is the establishment of public platforms for support.

Wear Red Day 2021

Wear Red Day underpins the awareness of heart defects and the Children's Heart Surgery Fund that is celebrated every year on the first Friday of February (5th Feb this year) by wearing red and utilizing various fundraising ideas like
  • Hosting a Bake Off and sell delicious treats to raise money
  • Get on to a sponsored walkathon
  • Creating fun forums like dressing the pets in red and imparting to their furry friends or counting red sweets in the jar
The "Children's Heart Foundation" framed in 1996, is dedicated to funding CHDs lifesaving research to improve survival rates, life span, and quality of life for individuals living with CHDs in life-changing ways. Several NGOs and organizations like "Heart Kids" are engaged in supporting CHDs.

The whole agenda around the "International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) awareness day" is to justify the offspring of the world with a pain-free childhood. It is accordingly obligatory for clinicians, researchers, health professionals, and the public to know about the agonizing outcomes of CHD as it can be forestalled with simple attention and preventive measures. CHD can also be treated, if a timely diagnosis is made.

Statistics on CHD

  • About 1 in 4 babies with CHD have a critical CHD as per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Almost 15% of CHDs are associated with genetic conditions
  • The most common type of congenital heart defect is a ventricular septal defect (VSD) in which underdevelopment of the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart results in a hole in the ventricular wall (septum)
  • VSD may result in mixing of pure and impure blood, which could be life-threatening.
  • The growing population of CHDs estimates that the survival rate of infants born with a non-critical CHD to 18 years of age is about 95% whereas 97% of infants survive to one year of age
  • Critical CHD accounts for 75% of babies' survival rate to one year of age and 69% with survival rate to 18 years of age.
  • Other physical problems or developmental or cognitive disorders are reported in 20% to 30% of people with CHD

How can you Prevent CHDs?

"Prevention is better than cure". CHD awareness day harnesses the essence of delivering a strong awareness platform for every mother to help prevent the risk of CHDs by following simple measures:
  • Ensure vaccination against rubella, measles, and flu (Influenza).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy as there are no safe limits on its consumption
  • Folic acid supplement (400 micrograms a day) during the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) may lower the risk of congenital heart disease in infants and other birth defects as well
  • Avoid contact with people with infections
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals (organic solvents) like those used in dry cleaning, paint thinners, and nail polish remover.
  • Monitor your weight and blood sugar levels (if you have diabetes)
  • Consume clean, healthy, and well-cooked foods
  • Always check with your doctor before taking any medications (herbal remedies, supplements, or over the counter drugs) during pregnancy
  • Well inform your doctor about any previous medical ailments and family history of CHD to schedule proper care

References :
  1. Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) - (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/index.html)
  2. Congenital Heart Disease - Prevention - (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/congenital-heart-disease/prevention/)

Source: Medindia

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