About CHD

(Congenital Heart Defect)

About 1 in 100 infants born in the United States has a congenital (present at birth) heart defect--a problem that occurred as the baby was developing during pregnancy, before the baby is born. It is the most common type of birth defect and is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect.

A baby's heart begins to develop at conception and is completely formed by the eighth week into the pregnancy. These first eight weeks are the most crucial to the baby's development and it is during this time that congenital heart defects can occur. The vast majority of congenital heart defects have no known cause.

Congenital heart problems range from simple to complex and can be classified in several categories. Some heart problems can be watched by the baby's physician and managed with medicines, while others will require multiple surgeries and a lifetime of doctor's visits, medicine, and other therapies. Thanks to advances in medical research, more and more children are surviving.

Out of all birth defects, congenital heart defects are associated with the highest average hospital charges, length of stay, and mortality.


Facts & Figures

  • Congenital heart defects are the #1 birth defect worldwide

  • About 1 out of every 100 babies born each year in the United States have some type of Congenital Heart Defect (approximately 40,000/year)

  • 85-90 percent of CHDs have no known causes

  • Approximately 1.3 million people living in the US today were born with a congenital heart defect, and at least half of these individuals are under age 25.

  • Nearly twice as many children die from Congenital Heart Defects in the United States each year than from all forms of childhood cancers combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for Congenital Heart Defects

  • Each year worldwide 100,000 babies (under one year old) will not live to celebrate their first birthday

  • Although some babies will be diagnosed during gestation or at birth, sometimes the diagnosis is not made until days, weeks, months, or even years after. In some cases, CHD is not detected until adolescence or adulthood

  • It is a proven fact that the earlier CHD is detected and treated, the more likely the affected child will survive and have less long term health complications