Congenital heart defects are heart problems a baby is born with. There are different types of problems. The heart may have a hole between two of its chambers. Blood may not flow the right way because of a problem with a blood vessel. Sometimes, a heart valve may not form correctly. Or, a heart valve or a chamber may not have formed at all.
These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth. But some cases of mild heart problems are diagnosed when a child is older.
It is scary and stressful to know that your child has a heart defect. But surgery can fix many of these problems. Sometimes, a defect gets better on its own as a baby grows. If a defect is very serious, a child could have surgery soon after diagnosis. In other cases, the doctor may wait until the child is stronger. In deciding about treatment, your doctor will look at your child's age and size, the type of defect your child has, and his or her overall health.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter N985 in the search box to learn more about "Congenital Heart Defects in Children: Care Instructions".
Current as of: April 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
© 2006-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.