Infant Congenital Heart Defects and Your Baby - Mommyato Blog
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect. 1 out of 4 babies born with CHD will need surgery due to critical defects.
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Infant Congenital Heart Defects and Your Baby

Infant Congenital Heart Defects

Infant Congenital Heart Defects and Your Baby

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect. 1 out of 4 babies born with CHD will need surgery due to critical defects. 

What are Infant Congenital Heart Defects?

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect. They can range from minor, like a small hole in the heart, to severe, such as missing or poorly functioning parts of the heart. It’s unknown why some infants are born with CHD. 

Health researchers think they occur sporadically, possibly related to a mother’s health condition, diet, environmental exposures, or medications. Researchers have observed a link between infant CHD and mothers who smoke, take certain prescription medications and who have diabetes and obesity.¹ Sometimes, there is a genetic component, such as with babies who are born with Turner’s Syndrome or Down Syndrome (changes with genes or chromosomes).² CHD has also been linked to maternal viral infections like Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

How Do You Know If Your Baby has CHD?

Many congenital heart defects are found during prenatal care when an ultrasound is performed to see the baby and the structure of his organs. Babies born in the hospital are screened for CHD before they are discharged home. Screening is a non-invasive test that involves placing a sensor on the baby’s skin, typically the right hand and a foot. The sensor measures how much oxygen is in the baby’s blood. This test has the most accurate results when the baby is 24-48 hrs old. 

If there is a problem with the functioning of the baby’s heart, the oxygen carried in the blood will be low. Since the blood circulates throughout the body, you might see visible signs of low blood oxygen, such as blue-tinted nails or lips, purple feet, labored breathing, tiredness when feeding, and being very sleepy or lethargic. Ask for your nurse or contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice these signs. Sometimes symptoms don’t develop until the first few weeks of life. If your baby develops blue tinged hands and feet or has trouble breathing, you should call emergency services immediately. 

Will Your Baby’s Long-term Health be Congenital Heart Disease?

Good prenatal care often discovers heart defects early in pregnancy. This means that newborns are surviving heart defects and living longer and healthier lives into adulthood. 1 out of 4 babies with CHD have critical defects and require surgery. Some may develop disabilities further along in life. Others develop issues like irregular heartbeats, weakened heart, or increased risk for heart infections that might require medications or procedures. Heart defects affect the way blood flows to other parts of the body so the goal of medical interventions is to improve upon this.

Since health researchers aren’t exactly sure how congenital heart defects happen, you can do your part by taking good care of yourself before conception and during pregnancy. Lifestyle and environmental factors may have a role in CHD so reach out for help in quitting smoking, following a nutritious meal plan, and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle


1. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). November 17, 2020. Congenital heart defects.

2. National Library of Medicine (NIH). August 1, 2020. Critical congenital heart disease.