Congenital heart disease is a common major cause of serious morbidity and mortality. It is usually defined as clinically significant structural heart disease present at birth.
Risk factors for congenital heart disease in children include an number of factors occurring during in the first trimester of pregnancy – the mother consuming excessive alcohol, certain medications and maternal viral infection, such as rubella. The risk increases if a parent or sibling has a congenital heart defect. One in every 100 children has heart defects due to genetic abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome. These include heart valve defects, atrial and ventricular septa defects, stenosis, heart muscle abnormalities, and a hole in the heart which causes defect in blood circulation, heart failure and eventual death.
Congenital heart disease is managed in various ways, depending on the severity of the disease. Medications are used, but in serious cases, catheterisation and surgery may be required to repair heart valves, or even heart transplantation.