February 7th – 14th is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, and we are joining millions of families by bringing awareness to this condition and how it affects thousands of babies each year.
A Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is a condition present at birth that affects the structure of major blood vessels and the heart. It is the most common type of birth defect. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 out of 100 babies are affected by this condition. Most defects are diagnosed soon after birth or in infancy, but some defects can be harder to detect and may go undiagnosed until later in childhood. It may provide you some comfort to know that the majority of CHDs can be surgically repaired. While those diagnosed can experience limitations throughout their lifetime, most patients grow up and live normal, thriving lives.
If you have a child who was just diagnosed with a CHD or if you want to learn more about these defects, let us share share with you some facts to help you navigate these stressful times.
1. Do your research.
Not all CHDs are alike. In fact, medical professionals believe that each heart defect is unique. It is important to arm yourself with information about your child’s specific heart defect to help you feel more comfortable making choices about his or her medical care. The two primary resources for finding this information are the American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control. You may also download the HeartPedia App, which was developed by cardiologists and allows you to see a 3D representation of ten common CHDs and how they can be surgically repaired.
2. Make long-lasting connections with doctors.
While most CHDs are surgically repaired shortly after birth, the defects follow the child into adulthood. Making strong and long-lasting relationships with an experienced cardiologist is important, as your child will need to routinely visit a cardiologist for heart check-ups. As an infant, common symptoms that those with CHDs may experience include abnormal heart rhythms, shortness of breath, blue-tinted skin, and failure to develop normally. Unfortunately, as an adult, some of these symptoms can continue even if a surgical repair was performed. Those with CHDs may need medical care throughout their lives.
3. Seek support from other families.
We know this can be a stressful and overwhelming time. There are many online platforms where you can connect with other families who have children with CHDs. Not only will this provide you with a much needed support system, it may also provide you some comfort hearing stories about teenagers and adults with CHDs who are thriving in their daily lives.
Above all, remember that many babies who are diagnosed with a CHD go on to live happy and healthy lives! Do you have questions? We are your local community law firm here to help you. Do not wait to contact us at any time, day or night.