Congenital heart disease is basically a disease of the heart that is present at birth. It means that if your child is suffering from a congenital heart disease, he/she was born with a defect in the structure of his/her heart.
Some of these diseases, e.g., a small hole between two chambers of the heart, are quite simple and may even heal with time without any major surgery. However, there are other congenital heart diseases that are quite complex in nature and cannot be cured without performing a surgery on the heart. Some diseases even need multiple surgeries to be performed on the patient periodically for a number of years.
Most of the congenital heart diseases are caused due to problems during the early development of the child’s heart. The causes of such problems are yet to be identified properly. However, certain factors like exposure to environmental toxins or some genetic factors have been identified that tend to increase the risk of developing congenital diseases in the heart. These risk factors include:
- Diabetes– Suffering from a chronic condition of diabetes during pregnancy can cause problems in the development of the heart of the fetus. Thus, women who are suffering from diabetes and are looking to conceive should keep a check on their diabetes levels before they try to conceive.
- Heredity– Congenital heart diseases tend to occur due to various genetic or hereditary factors. They may run in families for generations, especially in the ones that have a history of genetic syndromes like the Downs’ syndrome. Gaps in the DNA strands or other missing pieces of genetic information can also cause congenital heart problems. Thus, a thorough genetic counseling during fetal development is quite necessary to avoid such complications.
- Medications– Certain medications, if taken during pregnancy can cause problems with the development of your fetus’ heart. Taking antidepressants or anti-seizure medicines and several other medications which contain chemicals like lithium during pregnancy can also result in congenital heart diseases.
- German measles– This is a viral disease. Suffering from this condition during pregnancy causes congenital heart diseases. Therefore, if you are planning on getting pregnant, you must first visit the doctor to check for immunity against this particular disease and get proper vaccines if you are not.
- Smoking– Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is considered to be very harmful to the fetus. It can result in a number of fetal defects apart from developing a congenital heart disease.
- Alcohol– Alcohol should be completely avoided during pregnancy. Consumption of excessive alcohol at the time of pregnancy increases the possibility of congenital heart diseases in your child.
- Obesity– Gaining weight during pregnancy at a rapid pace may also result in the development of a congenital heart disease in your child.
These are the several risk factors which can be associated with congenital heart disease. Thus, if you are planning on getting pregnant, you must first go through a complete checkup of the body to find out any sort of defects which may be present in your body. Early detection of such defects is quite necessary towards the prevention of developing a congenital heart disease in your child.