Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common congenital malformation, accounting for about 1% of live births. The word “congenital” means existing at birth. A congenital heart defect can involve the walls or valves of the heart, or the arteries and veins near the heart. These structural anomalies can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, causing it to slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, be blocked completely. Often, no known cause is found, but viral infections and certain inherited conditions or genetic syndromes can increase the risk of a baby to develop CHD. Fetal exposure to drugs or alcohol may also increase the risk. There are many types of CHD, ranging from simple to very complex.

Overview For Parents

  • Congenital heart disease can be life-threatening. If your child experiences specific symptoms such as shortness of breath or fast breathing, cyanosis, fast breathing, poor feeding (especially in infants), poor weight gain and fatigue during physical activity (in older children), you should seek medical attention.
  • Despite increased survival, children with CHD are at risk of brain injuries and neurodevelopmental challenges. Follow-up with your child’s cardiologist, pediatrician, neurologist, and therapists is essential.
  • Ongoing research is aiming at improving long-term outcomes in children with CHD.

Overview For Clinicians

  • Congenital heart disease carries high rates of morbidity and mortality. Several modifiable risk factors are under investigations to optimize medical and surgical care.
  • The primary issue of maturation arrest rather than cellular loss highlights the potential for brain recovery from injury. The failed attempts to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes through modifications of cardiopulmonary bypass necessitate a paradigm shift towards fetal, pre- and postoperative opportunities to improve brain health in infants with CHD.
  • Randomized controlled trials are needed to test the utility of certain neuroprotective agents