Congenital heart defects are problems present at birth that affect the structure of the baby’s heart and how it works. A congenital heart defect happens when the heart, or blood vessels near the heart, don’t develop normally before birth. There are many forms of CHD, and recent progress in the diagnosis and treatment of these heart abnormalities makes it possible to fix most defects, even those once thought to be extremely life-threatening.
- What is a Congenital Heart Defect?
A normal heart has valves, arteries and chambers that carry the blood throughout the body. When the heart and all blood vessels work correctly, the blood is pumped through the heart, to the lungs for oxygen, back the heart and out to the body for delivery of oxygen. When the heart structures don’t develop properly before birth, this pattern can be interrupted.
Congenital heart defects come in many forms. CHD affecting pregnant women and infants in Dallas have access to advanced treatments and techniques through our specialized center.
- Common Forms of CHD
Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS)
When the blood flowing out from the heart is trapped by a poorly working valve, pressure may build up inside the heart and cause damage.
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
ASD allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into oxygen-poor blood chambers in the heart through a “hole” in the wall (septum) that separates the heart’s left and right sides.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
In HLHS, the heart’s left side is underdeveloped, affecting normal blood flow through the heart.
Pulmonary Valve Stenosis (PS)
The pulmonary valve allows blood to flow out of the heart, into the pulmonary artery and then to the lungs. PS occurs when a thickened or fused heart valve does not fully open.
Single Ventricle Defects (SVD)
SVDs are rare disorders affecting one lower chamber of the heart that may be smaller, underdeveloped or missing a valve.
Tetralogy of Fallot
This defect has four characteristics:
- A hole between the lower chambers of the heart
- An obstruction from the heart to the lungs
- The aorta (blood vessel) overlays the hole in the lower chambers
- Extensive thickening of the muscle surrounding the lower right chamber
Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
In normal development, the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart closes before the baby is born. When it fails to close completely, it may cause higher pressure in the heart or reduced oxygen to the body. Learn more about common types of congenital heart defects through the American Heart Association.
- How We Treat Congenital Heart Defects
Having a congenital heart defect diagnosed either before birth or in infancy can increase your baby’s risk of developing certain medical conditions later in life, including pulmonary hypertension, an irregular heartbeat and/or congestive heart failure. The maternal-fetal medicine specialists of Fetal Care Center Dallas are trained to look for early signs and symptoms of CHD and then address them.
Severe heart defects generally become evident during the first few months after a child’s birth, if not sooner. Some babies are born with a blue tone to their skin because of a lack of oxygen-rich blood in the body, or they may have very low blood pressure. Other defects make breathing or feeding difficult, or lead to poor weight gain.
Our team of specialists remains at the forefront of breakthrough surgical techniques to intervene in even the most serious situations. Our goal is to promote the best outcomes while minimizing the risks to both you and your baby.
If your child is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect today, the chances are better than ever that the problem can be overcome and they will go on to live a full life. We work with a multidisciplinary team of fetal surgery, fetal cardiology and other specialists as needed to provide treatments and support to help your baby thrive.