Congenital Heart Disease


Congenital heart disease (CHD) includes a broad range of cardiac problems that begin early in fetal development. CHD is the most common type of birth defects, affecting approximately one in 100 children.

There are two main types of CHD:

  • Cyanotic, in which the baby’s skin turns blue due to lack of oxygen
  • Non-cyanotic

The cause of CHD often is not known. However, genetics, infections (such as rubella) and exposure to certain substances, such as alcohol, may play a part.

Diagnosis and treatment

Congenital heart disease is sometimes diagnosed before birth, but often, it is not found until after birth or  even until adulthood. When it is diagnosed before birth, it is often discovered during routine prenatal ultrasound. Other tests, including fetal echocardiogram, may be needed if CHD is suspected.

Treatment depends on the type of CHD and may include fetal surgery or surgery shortly after birth. Other types may heal over time, or require medication or surgery later in life.