More About Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)

What is Congenital Heart Disease?

What is Congenital Heart Disease?

Congenital Heart Disease is a heart condition or defect that develops in the womb, before a baby is born.

There are different types of Congenital Heart Disease, a baby’s heart valves may not be properly formed or there may be holes between the chambers of their heart.

How is Congenital Heart Disease detected?

Ultrasound scans during pregnancy (usually at the 20 week scan), can be an effective way to detect a congenital heart problem early on, however, sometimes they are not found until after the baby has been born and in other cases, some conditions may not be discovered until the child is older or even an adult. Because every child and condition is different, Congenital Heart Disease in babies and toddlers can have a range of symptoms. The most common symptoms include extreme tiredness, poor feeding, excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, breathing problems, chest pain and a blue tinge to the skin. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, you should seek medical attention.

If a congenital heart condition is suspected after your 20 week pregnancy scan?

In this situation, you may be asked to attend another scan with a specialist or referred to a fetal medicine unit, obstetrician or a specialist in cardiac or child medicine.

If a congenital heart condition is confirmed, you should be given a detailed description of the problem, information about any surgery that might be needed, and the overall long-term outlook.

If appropriate, specialist monitoring and care will be provided before, during and after the birth so that your baby can receive tests and treatment as soon as possible. Some heart conditions can now also be treated in-utero (in the womb) before the birth.

What if a congenital heart condition is suspected in a baby or child?

In this case, your child may undergo a physical examination and heart tests such as an ECG.

If the diagnosis is confirmed, they will be seen by a paediatric cardiologist, who will manage their care.

You should be given a detailed description of the problem, information about any surgery that might be needed, and the overall long-term outlook for your child.

Where can I get more detailed or specific information?

The Leeds Congenital Hearts Unit website, which is funded by CHSF, contains a wealth of factual and clinical information for patients, their families and our supporters.