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NORFOLK- Heart problems that you're born with represent the most common kind of birth defect, affecting about 1 in every 100 babies in the United States, say doctors at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.

To highlight February as American Heart Month, here is information about heart problems at birth.

What is congenital heart disease?
-Congenital heart disease refers to problems with the heart's structure that is present from birth. It is the most common type of birth defect and unfortunately causes more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect.
-Most children with congenital heart disease do not have other types of birth defects. However, heart defects can be part of genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality. that can run in families as well. The incidence doesn't vary much from country to country or vary much among demographic groups either.
-Mothers often wonder if they did something during pregnancy to cause the heart problem; but in most cases, there is no identifiable reason why a heart defect occurs.
-Heart problems from birth are varied and can be simple or complex. Some can be managed with close medical supervision and medications and some children may even have their CHD resolve with time. Others require surgery or catheterization to treat their conditions and need lifetime followup.

What are the most common disorders and treatments?
They are Atrial Septal Defects (ASDs) and Ventricular Septal Defects (VSDs).
-An Atrial Septal Defect, or ASD is an abnormal connection or hole between the top chambers of the heart. All babies have a normal 'flap' connection between these two chambers but this is a true hole that sometimes allows too much blood to flow between the atria. In these cases, the ASD might need to be closed.
-Ventricular Septal Defect, or VSD is also one of the most common congenital heart defects. A child may have no symptoms only a sound that can be heard. Small VSDs may not cause any problems and the hole can eventually close as the child grows. However, if the VSD is large, too much blood will be pumped to the lungs, leading to heart failure. In these cases, sometimes surgery will be needed.
-These days, cardiac procesures doesn't always mean open-heart surgery. Many congenital heart defects can now be addressed using a less-invasive procedure called cardiac catheterization.
-Cardiac catheterization allows the physicians to view and access structures inside the heart and can be used to close holes inside the heart, open blockages or place stents into arteries to keep them open.

Know the Signs of a Heart Problem.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your pediatrician.
-Sweating, tiring, or breathing fast with feedings
-Consistently blue or purple lips and mouth, also fingers and nail beds.
-Heart murmur but not all murmurs are bad!
-Poor growth

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