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. Click here to learn more about the history of heart innovation at Boston Children's Hospital.

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