Congenital heart disease

Congenital (meaning present from birth) heart disease is a general term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart. It is one of the most common types of birth defect and can affect up to 9 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. Most cases are spotted during routine ultrasound scans, but this is not always possible.

Although in most cases there are no obvious causes of congenital heart disease, but research has show that some things can increase the risk of the condition. These include:

  • Down's syndrome - a genetic disorder that affects a baby's normal physical development and causes learning difficulties
  • the mother having certain infections, such as rubella, during pregnancy
  • the mother having poorly controlled type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • other chromosome defects, where genes may be altered from normal and can be inherited

For more information about congenital heart disease, visit the British Heart Foundation who have information on congenital heart diseases and living with these conditions.