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International Congenital Heart Defect Day

International Congenital Heart Defect Day

Author -  Dr. Namitha Kumar, MA, PhD
Article Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on February 13, 2018 at 7:01 PM
  • According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defect (CHD) is the leading birth defect causing infant and childhood death
  • Almost 1 in every 100 babies is born with CHD
  • CHD is 25 times more common than a disease like cystic fibrosis.

Every year, February is marked as Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) awareness month with International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day marked on 14th February. Since CHD is one of the leading birth defects seen among children, it is important to make clinicians, researchers, patients and families and general public aware of this condition. Awareness is the key to prevention. Awareness also disseminates knowledge about the condition and educates families on how to care for a child with CHD and interventional steps to be taken.

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International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Day communicates to the public that the patients and families are not alone in their suffering and there is a public platform for support. While CHD cannot be cured, there are surgical options to correct these defects. Early screening and diagnosis means a better chance at survival and normalcy. Children with CHD should not be deprived of a normal childhood and hence early intervention is the best step. CHD awareness day is important to enable physician and clinician updates on current intervention strategies, screening and diagnostics for CHD.

A dedicated day and week can reinforce the message of early screening and diagnostic to deliver the best quality of care for affected infants and babies. Neonatologists and pediatric cardiologists can use this public platform to create cascade awareness of CHD. A common birth defect like CHD should be able to pull in all public health resources to lower the rate of live births with CHD. Since CHD impacts the lives of babies and children, it is important for all sections of the community to be involved in awareness and prevention.

Awareness is the first step towards prevention. CHD day is a day to create a strong platform of awareness for expectant mothers to take precautionary steps. Some simple measures include:
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy and it must be totally avoided
  • Taking folic acid every day can play an important role in preventing CHD as well as other birth defects like spina bifida. A pregnant woman requires at least 400 mg of folic acid daily
  • Keeping your blood sugar in check, if you have diabetes. Eat healthy and stick to your prescribed meds to keep your blood sugar in good control
  • Do not take unwanted medications without consulting your doctor first. Do not resort to taking vitamins or other supplements without consulting your doctor
  • Keeping your weight in check, and maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy
  • Making sure you have been vaccinated for viruses like measles and rubella
  • Checking your family history in case anyone has had a case of CHD in which case you must talk to your doctor
CHD can be prevented with the above simple measures. However, CHD can also be treated if diagnosed at the right time. The children of the world deserve a pain-free childhood and it is important for clinicians, researchers, health professionals and the public to be aware of the painful consequences of CHD to prevent it and treat it on time.

What is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?

Congenital heart defect is the most common type of birth defect, that affects 8 out of 1000 newborn children. CHD relates to defective structures in the heart. These defects can include:
  • heart valves
  • interior valves in the heart
  • arteries and veins carrying blood to the heart
The most common CHDs are septum defects and tetralogy of Fallot. Some of these defects require no intervention while some require immediate surgical intervention and special care. If detected early and treated, children with CHD can live normal, productive lives as adults. Babies with critical CHDs must be treated within one year of age. However, 25% of children do not receive adequate care and this can affect normal growth and progress into adulthood. Early screening and diagnosis is important to prevent deterioration and it is important for neonatologists to screen newborn babies thoroughly.

  1. Congenital Heart Defects - (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects)
  2. CHDAware - CHD Awareness Week 2017 - (http://conqueringchd.org/chdaware-chd-awareness-week-2017/)
  3. CHD Awareness Information and Suggestions - (https://www.littlehearts.org/Content/CHD_Awareness_Information_and_Suggestions.asp)

Source: Medindia
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