CHD: The Most Common of Birth Defects
[S]creening tests can point to potential issues that, if treated immediately, can lessen the likelihood of a major problem in the baby’s future.
Many screenings are performed on infants, but unfortunately, at this point in time, many states don't screen for CHD, so it helps to know the possible warning signs like low blood pressure, feeding problems, and difficulty gaining weight and breathing. While the causes of a congenital heart defect aren’t known, some defects run in families, and there may be a connection between CHD and certain diseases like diabetes.
So if the risk for a heart defect concerns you, there are a few tests that can be done. A detailed ultrasound of the heart called a fetal echocardiogram can detect the workings of an unborn baby's heart, allowing the doctor to determine whether further testing is necessary. Also, there is a simple a way to measure the amount of oxygen in an infant's blood—the Pulse Oximetry test. The theory behind measuring oxygen levels in infants is that it could indicate if the heart is pumping blood to the lungs and body.
Nicholle considers little CHD survivors to be warriors. Her child has embraced the scars from the surgeries that have saved her life; she considers them a sign of strength—they are a part of her.
Since her experience with her daughter, Nicholle has found comfort in communities like Little Hearts and CHD Facebook pages. It is there where she can educate herself on CHD and learn from other parents' stories while reaching out to help moms and dads who are just beginning their CHD journey. She advises parents who have a child affected by a heart defect to find a cardiologist who specializes in children, educate themselves on CHD, ask questions, ask for testing, and, above all, she stresses the importance of trusting your parental instincts, because no one cares more for your little heart warrior more than you.