Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects, the National Institutes of Health reports. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects according to the National Institutes of Health.

This summer, the daughter of the Bears' Peanut Tillman had a heart transplant because of a congenital heart defect. Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of these complex defects has greatly improved.

Megan Van Pelt has a son who was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She is prepared to talk briefly about her personal experience and the research and support provided by The Children's Heart Foundation. The group has released a book, It's My Heart, to help parents make sense of very complicated medical terms and procedures.

Fast Facts: Congenital Heart Defects

- A congenital heart defect (CHD) consists of an abnormality in the structure of the heart that may have life-threatening effects.

- CHDs are the most common birth defect, affecting nearly one out of every one hundred babies, or approximately 40,000 babies per year in the United States alone. Worldwide, the problem is even bigger.

- CHDs are the number one cause of birth defect related deaths-responsible for nearly one third of all birth defect related deaths.

- Twice as many children die from CHDs in the U.S. each year as die from all forms of childhood cancers combined.

- Each year in the U.S. CHDs result in 91,000 lost years of life.

- Care charges can annually exceed 2.2 billion dollars for inpatient surgery alone.

- There are 35 different types of CHDs. Little is known about the cause of most of them and there is not yet a cure for any of them.

- To date,The Children's Heart Foundation has funded $3 million towards 34 research projects led by the nation's best and most promising research teams.

- More than 50 percent of all children born with a CHD will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime. Sadly, 20 percent of these children-or approximately 8,000 children in the United States- will not survive past their first year of life.

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