February 14th is designated Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day. This is an annual campaign to remember and honor anyone born with a heart defect. This campaign also honors all of the families and friends touched by children with heart defects along with the medical professionals caring for and conducting research to treat and prevent children born with heart defects.
1 out of every 100 newborns are affected by Congenital Heart Defects / Disease. CHDs are conditions that are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and how that baby’s heart works. These conditions can range from a small hole in the heart (considered mild) to missing or poorly formed parts of the heart (severe). Generally, the cause of CHD is not known but if a child has CHD is becomes evident during the first few months after birth during a routine medical checkup. Some babies have very low blood pressure shortly after birth and some babies have breathing difficulties, poor weight gain, or feeding problems.
An article published in Everyday Health noted “pediatricians should consider screening children with CHD and other chronic health illnesses for mental health problems”. This article also stated CHD patients are significantly more likely to have depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children not diagnosed with CHD. Dr. Lopez reported “that non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian American children were significantly less likely to be diagnosed or treated for anxiety and depression than white children, despite the fact that the prevalence of these conditions are thought to be the same across all races and ethnicities in the general population”. Most children with simple defects survive into adulthood. Their exercise capacity may be limited, but these children grow up to live normal or nearly normal lives. Children who had more complex problems had more developmental delay or other learning difficulties.