CHD: The Most Common of Birth Defects
For every 100 babies born, one is affected by CHD; that is nearly 40,000 babies per year who are born with abnormally formed hearts.
The heart is an amazing organ. Immediately after conception, the heart begins to develop. It starts out as just a simple tube, but over eight weeks, it divides and twists itself into two sides, four chambers, four valves, valve flaps, and walls that form the hardest-working organ in the body.
Each side of the heart beats several times per minute to keep blood pumping through the body; the chambers on the right side of the heart pump oxygen-poor blood to the lungs, while the chambers on the left side pump the newly oxygenated blood out to the body.
Most of the time, hearts form just as they are supposed to, but other times, one of the splits and twist doesn’t form quite right, resulting in a heart defect. Congenital Heart Defect, otherwise known by its acronym, CHD, is the most common birth defect. For every 100 babies born, one is affected by CHD; that is nearly 40,000 babies per year who are born with abnormally formed hearts. There are several types of heart defects.
Little Hearts explains 35 different defects. Some abnormalities are quite mild and need only to be monitored, while others require immediate attention.
Nicholle King, a Little Hearts member, is the proud mother to a CHD survivor. Even though she had three ultrasounds during her pregnancy, they never revealed signs that her baby was suffering a serious heart defect. It never showed that her baby’s four heart valves connected to an extra chamber that her heart had formed; it beat as a heart should, so it appeared and sounded fine. Had it not been for other complications seen after her birth and little pits on her ears (a telltale sign of possible heart problems), Nicholle and her fragile baby would have been sent home shortly after delivery. Fortunately, her daughter’s condition was noticed and was able to be helped with surgery.