Serious congenital heart defects in infants are often diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Doctors may find a minor defect later in a child’s life, sometimes during a routine physical exam. If a pediatrician suspects a problem with a child’s heart, he or she may order diagnostic tests or refer the child to a pediatric cardiologist.
What Is a Congenital Heart Defect?
Congenital defects are abnormalities in the heart’s structure at or before birth. There are different types of defects, any of which may change the flow of blood through the heart.
Some defects are simple, have no symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others may require surgery to correct the problem. Heart defects are relatively common. Eight out of every 1,000 babies in the U.S. are born with heart problems according to the National Institutes of Health.