Congenital heart defects in children

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A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a heart problem that’s present at birth. It’s caused by improper development of the heart during fetal development.

  • 1 percent of babies are born with a CHD.
  • Nine out of every 1,000 babies born in the US are born with a congenital heart abnormality.
  • One third of these babies require intervention to prevent death in the first year of life.
  • 85 to 90 percent of CHDs have no known causes.
  • 5 to 6 percent are related to chromosome abnormality.
  • 3 to 5 percent are related to single gene defects.
  • 2 percent are related to environmental factors.
  • Approximately 1.3 million people living in the US today were born with a congenital heart defect, and at least half of these individuals are under age 25.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches congenital heart defects

The first operation to correct a congenital heart defect was performed in 1938 by Boston Children’s surgeon, Robert Gross, MD. Today, we perform more than 1,200 cardiac surgeries each year.


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 Boston Children's Heart Center ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Report for eight consecutive years. Learn more.
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