Learn the Basics on Congenital Heart Defects

Since Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love, it only makes sense that the week leading up to the day is Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week.

We’ve written extensively about heart disease in general — from the basics to prevention to heart healthy foods — but never more specifically about congenital heart defects. Since they are the most common form of birth defects, affecting 40,000 babies in the US annually, it’s important that people know about congenital heart defects.

Today, we’re providing basic information on congenital heart defects, including prevention.

Congenital Heart Defects Basics

What are congenital heart defects?

Referring to a number of heart problems, congenital heart defects develop prior to birth and can affect the heart’s chambers, blood vessels, or valves.

Usually, congenital heart defects develop in the weeks soon after conception, when a mother is unaware of her pregnancy. A baby may develop multiple congenital heart defects or just one, and they can range in severity from mild (requiring little or no medical treatment, like a heart murmur) to more critical (such as a missing chamber or valve).

How can congenital heart defects be prevented?

Mom & BabyWhile the root of most congenital heart defects are largely unknown, experts have identified some components that may cause the heart issues. These include:

  • Genetic factors: changes in a baby’s genes or chromosomes before birth can lead to congenital heart defects.
  • Certain risk factors: pregnant women who have particular risk factors — including obesity, diabetes, and smoking habits — have a higher chance of a child with congenital heart defects.

This means that preventing congenital heart defects isn’t as simple as you might have hoped; a combination of preventative measures is your best bet. These could include:

  • Achieving & maintaining a healthy weight. When you’re at the right weight, your cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart health improve, which has a positive impact on your baby.
  • Controlling diabetes. Keeping your blood sugars in check will help lower your child’s risk of developing congenital heart defects.
  • Quitting smoking. Tobacco use harms your child before birth, increasing the risk of birth complications and congenital heart defects.
  • Increasing folic acid intake. Research has shown that taking folic acid in the early weeks of pregnancy cuts a baby’s chance of developing congenital heart defects. If you are trying to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to start taking folic acid daily!

Test Smartly Labs Can Help Prevent Congenital Heart Defects

Your wellness-certified Test Smartly Labs location can provide information you need about your health to make necessary changes and prevent your baby from developing congenital heart defects.

Our Health Risk Assessments can help determine if your family has a genetic history of congenital heart defects; our basic lab tests, such as cholesterol testing, blood sugar level testing, and folic acid testing, can determine if your levels are okay or if you should make lifestyle changes to reduce your child’s risk of congenital heart defects.

To get started, contact your nearest wellness-certified Test Smartly Labs – find your location by clicking on the drop-down menu!


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