Heart and Vascular Center

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect, is a heart defect that occurs during fetal development in the uterus. About one out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, which can involve one or more heart structures or blood vessels around the heart. In most cases, the cause of the defect is unknown, but research has suggested that congenital heart disease may be the result of a genetic abnormality or if the developing fetus is exposed to certain medications, toxic substances, alcohol or drugs. During the past few decades revolutionary advances in medical and surgical care for congenital heart disease have resulted in excellent outcomes. This means that children treated for a congenital heart defect have now reached adulthood. Many of these patients are leading full, productive lives and have children of their own. In fact, the number of adult patients with congenital heart disease is now greater than those under age 20. Today at least half a million adults in the United States have congenital heart disease.