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Critical congenital heart disease

(Critical • kuhn-JEN-uh-tuhl • heart • disease)

General Condition Information

Other Names

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Critical condition heart disease
  • Critical congenital heart defect
  • Critical congenital heart defects

Condition Type

Birth Prevalence

  • Approximately 7,200 babies are born with a critical congenital heart defect each year in the United States. 
  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about how often this condition occurs.

Screening Finding

Low blood oxygen

What is Critical congenital heart disease

Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a group of serious heart conditions present at birth. 

Your heart pumps blood through your body. Your lungs take oxygen from the air you breathe and send it to your blood. Your heart takes this oxygen-rich blood and sends it to the rest of your body. One of the first signs of CCHD is that the oxygen in blood drops to low levels.

Children with CCHD are born with hearts that are not formed correctly. Sometimes as the heart develops, holes are left behind (septal defects). Other times, one of the valves that separates different parts of the heart is missing (atresia). There are other problems as well that involve the parts of the heart being too narrow or small or not connecting correctly. 

When your baby’s heart is not able to deliver enough oxygen or other important substances to their body, this leads to the signs and symptoms of this condition. Babies with CCHD need special care and treatment early in life.

Newborn Screening and Follow-Up

Condition Details

Treatment and Management

Babies with CCHD need treatment, like surgery or other care, early in life. The type of treatment a baby needs depends on the baby’s heart problem and symptoms. A cardiologist (heart doctor) works with the families of babies who have CCHD to make sure they get the best possible care.

Children who receive early and ongoing treatment for CCHD can have healthy growth and development.

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