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Heart Defects in Children

A Congenital heart is when a heart develops a problem from before birth. Often this is such things as a hole in the heart. These problems usually develop before anyone is aware that they exist. Heart defects can have a wide degree of severity. There are simple problems such as holes between the chambers of the heart to extreme malformations such as the complete absence of one or more chambers or valves within the heart.

Anyone can have a child with a congenital heart defect. Statistics have shown that out of one thousand births, eight babies will have some form of congenital heart disorder, most of which are mild. If some family members have already had a baby with a heart defect, the risk of having a baby born with a heart disease may well be higher.

This is something that most of the time cannot be predicted. The main reason defects occur is presumed to be genetic, only a few genes have been discovered that have been linked to the presence of heart defects. Rarely the ingestion of some drugs and the occurrence of some infections during pregnancy can cause defects.

Most heart defects in children are congenital. They are usually but not always diagnosed early in life. There are rare case where hear disease in children is not congenital. This type of heart disease is called acquired; examples include Kawasaki disease and rheumatic fever. Children also can be born with or develop heart rate problems such as slow, fast, or irregular heart beats, known as “arrhythmias”.

Severe heart disease generally becomes evident during the first few months after birth. Some babies are blue or have very low blood pressure shortly after birth. Other defects
may cause breathing difficulties, feeding problems, or poor weight gain.

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