About one in every 100 babies that are born in the United States each year have a congenital heart defect (CHD). This means that about 40,000 babies are born with CHD, making it the most common birth defect in the country. Research in the area of pediatric cardiology has made it possible for babies born with a heart defect to go on to have a high quality of life. Knowledge and understanding of heart defects is also a key factor. Here are three things you need to know if your child has been diagnosed with CHD.
Your Child Will Need Ongoing Care
Babies that are born with severe heart defects such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) or a severe ventricle septal defect (VSD), will need to have ongoing care, most likely for the rest of their life. As babies, they will see a children's cardiologist who specializes in pediatric cardiology. As they grow into adults, they will need to find a specialized type of cardiologist that treats adults with congenital heart defects. Currently, there are over 100 clinics throughout the country that treats babies and adults with CHD.
Your Child Can Still Do Physical Activities
At one time, pediatric cardiologists warned parents not to let their child born with CHD to partake in physical activities. Through the years, this recommendation has changed and many children's cardiologists are realizing that exercise and engaging in physical activity can be beneficial, even for children with heart defects. Some of the best types of physical activity for a child born with CHD are aerobic exercises including:
While exercise is encouraged, there are still some forms of physical activities some children and adults may not be able to participate in. This includes playing football or hockey. These sports have an increased chance of injury and can cause unnecessary strain on the heart.
Your Child May Need Surgery
There are at least 18 specific types of congenital heart defects and depending on the type of heart defect your child has been born with and its complexity, your child may need open heart surgery. Some types of heart defects will require more than one surgery. For example, a child born with HLHS, will need their first surgery within the first two weeks of life, followed by two more surgeries by the age of 3. Along with surgery, your child may need to have a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to help regulate the rhythm of their heart.
Contact a center like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology for more information.
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