General info about CHD

Approximately 500 children with congenital heart defect are born each year in Finland. Congenital means inborn or existing at birth. Heart diseases of children are mostly structural defects. It is estimated that approximately 1 % of all infants born each year have a heart defect. Structural heart defects are amongst the most commons anomalies of any singular organ of a human being. Heart defect can also be associated with certain syndromes, such as Down’s Syndrome or Catch-22 Syndrome. However, most children with heart defects do not have any additional structural defects.

Heart of a fetus develops during the first seven weeks of a pregnancy. The development of a heart is extremely complex series of events. If the development is interrupted for some reason, this may result in a structural deformation of a heart. The reasons for the interruption in the developmental period are yet unknown by medical science. It has been suggested that a combination of several factors may contribute to the development of a heart defect – including sheer coincidence. In addition, hereditary factors, some medication or disease, such as German measles suffered during pregnancy may cause heart defects.

As the reasons for the development of a heart defect are unknown in most cases, parents of a child may easily blame themselves for it. Although it is an understandable reaction, it is also totally unnecessary – the doings or non-doings of parents cannot be pointed out as the determinative factors behind the congenital heart defects.