Congenital Heart Defects

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:52 by admin
Each year, more than 25,000 infants (approximately 1 in every 125 to 150) in the United States are born with heart defects. Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. A condition is "congenital" if it is present at birth. Heart defects start early in pregnancy, when the heart begins to form. Such defects may affect the functionality and mechanics of the heart. Some children with congenital heart defects exhibit symptoms immediately after birth, but occasionally, symptoms do not surface until early childhood. Certain heart defects prevent the heart from pumping an adequate supply of blood to the lungs or other parts of the body. Such defects can lead to congestive heart failure. Other defects cause the skin to turn a pale gray or blue color soon after birth or during infancy. This condition is called cyanosis.

It is not clear what causes congenital heart defects. Some environmental factors are known to contribute to their formation. These factors may include viral infections contracted by the mother in the early stages of pregnancy. In addition, certain medications that the mother takes during pregnancy may cause congenital heart defects in her offspring. Medications associated with congenital heart defects include, but may not be limited to, Accutane (acne medication), lithium, and certain anti-seizure drugs. Also, medications that interfere with the body's absorption of folic acid, such as the antibiotic Trimethoprim, are linked with heart defects. See your doctor if you are concerned about using prescription or over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. A birth defects attorney may also help inform you of your legal rights.

See Also

  1. Birth Defects
  2. Accutane / Isotretinoin
  3. Antibiotics
  4. Epilepsy Drugs: Overview
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