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Quick Facts: Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are conditions present at birth that can affect the structure of a baby's heart and the way it works, and they are the most common types of birth defects. CHDs are a leading cause of infant illness and death. Nearly 1% of births in the United States are affected by CHD, accounting for about 40,000 infants per year. In the United States, hospital care for individuals with CHDs costs nearly $2 billion per year.

CHDs can vary in their severity, from mild to severe. Critical congenital heart diseases (CCHDs) are types of heart defects that can lead to low levels of oxygen in a newborn and may be identified using pulse oximetry screening at least 24 hours after birth. Babies with a CCHD need surgery or other procedures in the first year of life. CCHDs are screened for at birth by many states, often mandated by law or regulation.

The prevalence of CHDs vary by state and by type of defect. Currently, many state-based birth defects programs track CHDs among infants and young children.


Prevalence in US:

Hoffman JL, Kaplan S. The incidence of congenital heart disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002;39(12):1890-1900.

Reller MD, Strickland MJ, Riehle-Colarusso T, Mahle WT, Correa A. Prevalence of congenital heart defects in Atlanta, 1998-2005. J Pediatr. 2008;153:807-13.

Hospital costs:

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