Congenital Heart Disease

What are congenital heart defects?
They are heart problems that develop before birth. According to the Mayo Clinic, they can occur in the heart’s chambers, valves or blood vessels.

A baby can be born with one defect or several. The severity varies. In some cases, it may be mild in a child and may need little or no medication. Other types are life-threatening immediately or over time.

What are some of the common types?
There are many different types of heart defects. Some conditions have a combination of more than one. Here are some according to the Mayo Clinic. For a more comprehensive list, see the Mayo Clinic or the American Heart Association.

  • Ventricular septal defect—sometimes called a hole in the heart—is the most common. It occurs in the muscular wall separating the bottom chambers of the heart.
  • Atrial septal defect—is a hole that occurs in the muscular wall separating the top two chambers of the heart.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus—the ductus arteriosus normally closes within soon after birth. If the ductus arteriosus remains open, some blood that should flow through the body goes to the lungs.
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis—blood flow from one of the heart’s bottom chambers, the right ventricle, to the pulmonary artery is slowed by narrowing at the pulmonary valve.
  • Aortic stenosis—a defect that narrows or blocks the aortic valve opening, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood into the aorta—the main artery leading away from the heart—on to the rest of the child’s body.
  • Coarctation of the aorta—is the narrowing in a portion of the heart’s main artery. It forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and on to the rest of the body.
  • Transposition of the great arteries—the positions of the aorta, the main artery and the pulmonary artery are reversed. These two arteries are often referred to as the great arteries. This prevents nourishing oxygenated blood from reaching the body.

Did you know these facts about children with heart disease?
According to the Children’s Heart Foundation:

  • Congenital heart defects are America’s and every country’s #1 birth defect. Nearly 1 of every 100 babies is born with heart disease.
  • Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of all infant deaths in the United States.
  • Each year approximately 40,000 babies are born in the U.S.  with congenital heart defect.
  • Almost half of all children and adults with complex congenital heart disease have neurological and developmental disabilities.
  • There are an estimated 2,000,000 survivors in the U.S.
  • The cost for inpatient surgery to repair congenital heart defects exceeds $2.2 billion a year.
  • More than 50% of all children born with congenital heart defect will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime.

The Children’s Heart Center at Barnabas Health in New Jersey is the state’s largest and most comprehensive center for diagnosis and treatment for children with heart problems and expectant mothers whose child may have a heart problem.

The Children’s Heart Foundation is the only organization that was created exclusively to fund congenital heart defects. For information log on to

Visit the American Heart Association—Programs for Healthier Kids at or call 1-800-242-8721.

Visit the Heart Hub® portal for tools and resources auto cardiovascular disease at