Congenital heart disease is a more technical term for any heart condition that is present since birth. The term “congenital” comes from two Latin words that mean “from birth”. A simpler term for a congenital heart defect is “a birth defect of the heart”.
Congenital heart disease is the most common type of heart disease in children. About 1% of children are born with a birth defect of the heart. Some defects cause symptoms and problems within a few days after a child’s birth. Other defects are much less serious and may only be detected later in childhood.
Some birth defects of the heart may be associated with birth defects of other systems of the body. Sometimes a group of particular birth defects happen together in a child and this is called a “syndrome”. This comes from the Greek words that mean “running together”. Some birth defects are related to genetic conditions. Other birth defects may rarely run in a family. Most birth defects of the heart have no known cause or prevention. Unless told otherwise by the pediatric cardiologist, the parents of a child with a birth defect of the heart should be reassured that there is nothing that could have been done before the baby’s birth to cause or to prevent the birth defect.