Congenital Heart Defects

What is a congenital heart defect?

A congenital heart defect is a structural problem of the heart that develops during pregnancy. About 1 out of 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect.

There are many types of congenital heart defects, ranging from simple to complex. Most are detected and treated early in infancy.

What are the symptoms of a congenital heart defect?

Symptoms of congenital heart defects in infants and children include:

  • cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails and lips)
  • respiratory distress
  • poor feeding
  • poor weight gain
  • recurrent lung infections
  • less ability to exercise or play actively compared to other children

What are the causes of a congenital heart defect?

Many congenital heart diseases have a genetic cause. Some known associations include:

If you have a congenital heart defect, we recommend you speak with a genetic counselor or genetic specialist before becoming pregnant.

How we care for congenital heart defects

The Boston Children's Hospital Heart Center specializes in treating the entire spectrum of congenital heart defects before and after birth through adulthood. Search our condition pages to learn more about how we treat specific congenital heart defects.