Tips to Prevent Congenital Heart Disease

When our baby died due to Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), Michael and I found out everything we could. We believe that Lydia was born healthy two years later, partly because of what we learned.

Just like miscarriage, stillbirth and other causes of pregnancy and post natal infant loss, CHD is sometimes caused by things beyond our control. But that there are also many things a woman can do to lower her risk of having a baby born with CHD.

Congenital Heart Disease is caused by abnormal or disordered heart development before birth. Tens of thousands of babies are born every year with CHD. It is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect.

The critical time for prevention of CHD is before pregnancy, and then during the first trimester.

1. Prior to pregnancy, each woman should confirm that she is immune to rubella (German measles). If she’s not certain whether she’s been vaccinated, she should be tested and vaccinated if she shows no immunity.

2. Before and during pregnancy, every woman should also take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.

3. Being overweight or obese is another risk factor. Since you can’t diet once you’re pregnant (because you risk limiting nutrients your baby needs), it’s vital to eat healthy and manage weight before getting pregnant.

4. To further prevent CHD during pregnancy, women should also control their exposures to:

  • Prescription medicines, particularly those for acne, seizures and bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • X-rays
  • Strong chemicals, such as solvents
  • Viral infections, especially those of the upper respiratory tract.

Comments (2)

Ky Tyler-Whiteman
Said this on 10-09-09 At 02:00 am
Hi ... just wanted to add that knowing your diabetes risk and keeping blood sugars stable is also a factor in CHD prevention.

Our daughter was born with HLHS, 8 VSDs, Coarctication of the Aortic arch, Pulmonary and Aortic Stenosis and cotton thin arteries surrounding her heart which was later attributed to the fact that I was an undiagnosed diabetic at the time of her conception.

She endured 4 open heart surgeries before passing away at 9 days old.

If adding an HBA1C blood test to our preconception checklist could prevent another person from enduring the heartache of losing a child, then I think the word should be spread.

Thankyou for this great article.
Said this on 17-07-12 At 04:32 pm

Thanks for the tips. I am also an affected mom. I found out that my child had CHD during the 7th month of pregnancy and my baby was terminated. And they suggested that this defect was not genetic. My baby was terminated in April 2012. I now wonder when I should try for my next baby, and what all the preventing methods for CHD during pregnancy are..

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