Congenital heart defects (CHDs) happen when a baby’s heart doesn’t develop normally during pregnancy. They can make blood flow too slowly, go the wrong way or block it completely.
These problems can be mild, never need treatment, or severe and require surgery. Fortunately, many people with CHDs survive and live healthy lives.
Congenital heart abnormalities may also be more likely in those who engage in certain lifestyle habits like smoking and consuming alcohol. Other factors that can cause a defect include using illegal drugs or taking certain prescription medicines during pregnancy.
Specific cardiac abnormalities, such as those with a missing genetic component on chromosome 22, are passed down via families (inherited). Others are caused by environmental factors, such as a woman’s exposure to German measles during pregnancy. A person with a heart defect often develops congestive heart failure, which causes the heart to pump blood less efficiently. It can lead to shortness of breath, gasping breaths and poor weight gain. However, some CHD patients perform better than others. With the help of medical professionals, even organizations like Conquering CHD, people understand more about how to cope with the abnormalities. It helps patients living with CHD improve their outcomes.
During pregnancy, many factors may lead to the development of a congenital heart defect. Many factors can affect how a baby’s heart develops during pregnancy. These include genes from a parent and certain illnesses in the mother or the environment. The mother’s age, weight, health, certain medicines she takes, and her family history also affects the development.
When the heart or blood arteries close to the heart do not grow normally before birth, this condition is known as a congenital heart defect (CHD). It’s a structural problem with the heart that affects about 1% of babies born each year in the United States.
Genetic disorders are caused by changes in an individual’s DNA that can be inherited from parents or acquired from radiation, certain cancer-causing chemicals, or other factors. Inherited gene defects can lead to heart defects or various other diseases.
Genetics involves the study of the genes of an organism and how those genes affect a person’s appearance, health, and personality. People possess a set of 22 chromosomes, each containing one chromosome from each parent.
In addition, every individual has an entire set of mitochondrial chromosomes, also present in the cells of a person’s body. These chromosomes contain all the information that makes a person who they are.
Because of the complex molecular structure of DNA, a variety of different types of gene mutations and genetic abnormalities can occur. Some of these are due to a single base change in one or several genes, while others involve deletions or additions to chromosomes or sets of chromosomes.
The environment is everything that surrounds us, from the soil and water to the animals and plants. It contributes to human existence by offering materials for survival.
Environment comes from a French word that means “to surround.” It refers to abiotic (physical or non-living) and biotic (living) environments.
There are many ways that the environment can affect a baby’s health, including exposure to certain chemicals or air pollutants during pregnancy. These substances can cause a baby’s heart to grow abnormally.
Congenital heart defects, such as a hole in the wall separating the heart’s ventricles or atrial chambers, can be caused by some of these drugs. The condition is called a complete or partial atrioventricular canal defect. It is the most prevalent congenital cardiac defect in five to 8% of infants with CHD. It usually results from a problem with the chromosomes, which code for cell genes.