What is a congenital heart defect?
- Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. These defects can involve:
- The interior walls of the heart
- The valves inside the heart
- The arteries and veins that carry blood to the heart or the body
- Congenital heart defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.
- There are many types of congenital heart defects. They range from simple defects with no symptoms to complex defects with severe, life-threatening symptoms.
Congenital heart defects are America’s and every country’s #1 birth defect. Nearly one of every 100 babies is born with a CHD, yet CHD research is grossly under-funded relative to the prevalence of the disease.
- Congenital heart defects are the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths.
- Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of all infant deaths in the United States.
- Each year approximately 40,000 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect. Thousands of them will not reach their first birthday and thousands more die before they reach adulthood.
- Each year over 1,000,000 babies are born worldwide with a congenital heart defect. 100,000 of them will not live to see their first birthday and thousands more die before they reach adulthood.
- Almost half of all children and adults with complex congenital heart disease have neurological and developmental disabilities.
- There are an estimated 2,000,000 CHD survivors in the United States.
- For the first time, more than 50% of the CHD survivors are adults.
- 10% of all CHD cases evaluated in an Adult CHD clinic are first diagnosed in adulthood.
More than 50% of all children born with congenital heart defect will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime.
- There are more than 40 different types of congenital heart defects. Little is known about the cause of most of them. There is no known prevention or cure for any of them.
- The diagnosis and treatment of complex heart defects has greatly improved over the past few decades. As a result, almost all children who have complex heart defects survive to adulthood and can live active, productive lives.
In the United States, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD.
- Of every dollar the government spends on medical funding, only a fraction of a penny is directed toward congenital heart defect research.
- The NHLBI has stated that Congenital Heart Defects are a serious and underappreciated global health problem.
- In the last decade death rates for congenital heart defects have declined by almost 30% due to advances made through research.