Facts About Congenital Heart Defects

Each year, 1 out of every 120 babies in the United States is born with some type of heart defect. That makes congenital heart defects (CHD) the most common type of birth defect in children.

The more you know about pediatric heart defects, the better prepared you'll be to help raise awareness and research funds for the cause — which can ultimately help improve the lives of children with CHD. Here are five key facts you should know:

  1. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. They affect approximately 40,000 babies in the United States each year.
  2. Congenital heart defects occur in the early stages of pregnancy, when the heart is forming. Congenital heart defects include abnormalities in the heart’s structure, electrical system and other abnormalities that affect the function of a baby’s heart.
  3. Approximately 1 million babies are born with heart defects worldwide every year.
  4. Heart defects are more prevalent in children than childhood cancer. In fact, congenital heart defects are approximately 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer.
  5. Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities cause some heart defects. Other risk factors include maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal obesity, maternal diabetes and maternal infections such as rubella.

Want to know more? Check out our infographic for 16 things you need to know about congenital heart disease.

Hear more from the experts

The Cardiac Center at Children's Hospital is one of the world's leading heart centers. We provide the most advanced treatments for heart defects — from the routine to the rare — from before birth, through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.

Find out what makes the Cardiac Center unique and learn about how the exceptional cardiac care we provide is making a difference in the lives of children with heart defects.

Help make a difference

Find out how you can make a difference in the lives of children with heart defects.

Reviewed on March 31, 2014