A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a defect in the structure of the heart and great vessels which is present at birth. Many types of heart defects exist, most of which either obstruct blood flow in the heart or vessels near it, or cause blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal pattern. Other defects, such as long QT syndrome, affect the heart’s rhythm.
Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. Causes for congenital heart defects can be genetic, environmental, or both.
Not all heart defects are discovered during a routine prenatal ultrasound…that’s why it is so important to be educated on the signs and symptoms of a baby born with an undiagnosed heart defect.
Many heart defects do have signs and symptoms, such as cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails), rapid breathing, fatigue, sweating while feeding, not gaining weight and poor blood circulation.
In many critical cases, signs and symptoms may not be noticeable immediately after birth. A doctor may not even detect signs of a heart defect during a physical exam after birth. Sometimes it may take days or weeks to for the symptoms to appear. Tragically, some heart defects are not discovered in time. That’s why Kelly championed Chloe’s Law (in honor of her daughter, Chloe) to have every baby in the State of Missouri screened for critical CHD before leaving the birthing facility.
Read more about Kelly’s four year fight for Chloe’s Law here.
There are over 35 different types of CHD and each one is different. Some heart defects may not require any treatment at all. Some may only require medication. Some heart defects may require one open heart surgery, while others require multiple procedures and surgeries.
In addition to medication, procedures and surgeries, many children may also struggle with not being able to participate in sports, slower growth and development, stroke, emotional issues and learning disabilities.
Treatment for children who have a CHD does not end with surgeries or medication while they’re young. Children who have heart defects need to see a cardiologist for the rest of their lives. They also need to remain mindful of their heart problems as their CHD could have complications, such as difficulty with pregnancy, increased risk of heart tissue infection (endocarditis), heart failure or heart valve problems.
Read Chloe’s CHD story here.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this race! Your efforts will help raise much needed awareness for Congenital Heart Defects. Most importantly, your generosity will help raise funds that will benefit local families affected by CHD.