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CONGENITAL HEART DEFECTS:

congenital heart defectA congenital heart defect (CHD), also known as a congenital heart anomaly or congenital heart disease, is a problem in the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Heart defects are the most common birth defect. Signs and symptoms depend on the specific type of problem. Symptoms can vary from none to life-threatening. When present they may include rapid breathing, bluish skin, poor weight gain, and feeling tired. It does not cause chest pain. Most congenital heart problems do not occur with other diseases. Complications that can result from heart defects include heart failure.

The cause of a congenital heart defect is often unknown. Certain cases may be due to infections during pregnancy such as rubella, use of certain medications or drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, parents being closely related, or poor nutritional status or obesity in the mother. Having a parent with a congenital heart defect is also a risk factor. A few genetic conditions are associated with heart defects including Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Marfan syndrome.

Congenital heart defects are partly preventable through rubella vaccination, the adding of iodine to salt, and the adding of folic acid to certain food products. Some defects do not need treatment, whereas others may be effectively treated with catheter based procedures or heart surgery. Occasionally several operations may be needed, or heart transplantation is required. With appropriate treatment outcomes, even with complex problems, are generally good.