The term “congenital” means a medical condition is present from birth and is mainly related to genetics for example in case of hearts, it is congenital heart disease. In some cases, doctors are able to find these problems in a baby before it’s born.
Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting nearly 1 in 100 babies born in the UK.
What are the causes of Congenital heart disease?
In most cases, no obvious cause of congenital heart disease is identified. Nevertheless, some things are known to increase the risk of the condition, consist of:
- Down’s syndrome – a genetic disorder that affects a baby’s normal physical growth and causes learning difficulties
- the mother being affected by certain infections, such as rubella, throughout pregnancy. If a woman has rubella while expecting a baby, it can create problems with the baby’s heart. Most people are vaccinated in childhood therefore it isn’t usually the reason. However, if you’re pregnant and weren’t vaccinated, or if you’re not sure, you better tell your doctor. If you need to get vaccinated for rubella, you have to wait at least a month after getting vaccinated before you get pregnant.
- the mother taking certain types of medicine throughout pregnancy, including some acne medicines and statins
- the mother drinking alcohol or smoking throughout pregnancy
- Mothers having not controlled type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes in the mother can affect the formation and growth of her baby’s heart. Gestational diabetes, which develops through pregnancy, shouldn’t increase a baby’s risk of having a heart defect so you shouldn’t be worried about this particular diabetes.
- other chromosome defects, where genes may be transformed from normal and can be inherited (run in the family)
Many cases of congenital heart disease are detected before a baby is born through an ultrasound scan in pregnancy. But, it’s not always possible to notice congenital heart defects in this way.
Signs and symptoms:
Congenital heart disease might have a number of symptoms, particularly in babies and children, including:
- rapid breathing
- rapid heartbeat
- inflating of the tummy, legs or around the eyes
- extreme fatigue and tiredness
- a blue color to the skin or lips (cyanosis)
- rapid breathing and tiredness when a baby is feeding
These problems are occasionally noticeable soon after birth, while minor defects may not cause any problems until later in life.
All in all, don’t forget to consult with your practitioner whether you have a history in the family, diabetes and any other problems that worries you, or not.