An estimated 600 children with cardiac anomalies are born every year in Lebanon. The most frequent heart defects are a hole in the heart (Atrial or Ventricular Septal Defects) and blue babies (Fallot tetralogy).
A congenital heart defect is a problem with the heart structure existing at birth. CHD are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of infant death. They include a ‘hole’ in the heart’, a bad ‘valve’, or a missing part of the heart. The defect typically interferes with the normal flow of blood through the heart, which may affect breathing and growth. Symptoms that appear on the child include a purplish-blue color of the face, lips and nails (hence the name ‘blue disease’). Other symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating and poor weight gain.
1% of the world population is born with a heart disease. That’s around 600 children in Lebanon every year.
Some babies have heart defects because their parents are first or second degree cousins. Other factors include diseases contracted during the first three months of pregnancy or a mix risk of factors such as drugs (antidepressants or alcohol), smoking, obesity and diabetes.
It’s essential to screen for heart defects during a pregnancy as almost all cardiac defects can be detected before birth. If a serious heart defect is confirmed, the doctor will ask the mother to deliver the baby in a hospital equipped with pediatric cardiology units, with a pediatric cardiac surgeon present.
If detected early and treated on time, 95% of children born with a heart disease can live a normal life. Some of these defects require open heart surgery while other interventions can be done using catheterization techniques with umbrellas or stents to fix blood flow problems in the heart or enlarge narrowed arteries.
Most importantly don’t be scared. Talk to your doctor. With the improvement of specialized medical care and treatment, the great majority of infants with CHD are living into adulthood with an excellent quality of life. The only remaining barrier to treatment is often the cost of care! This is why a humanitarian association like Heartbeat is here to help you keep your family united.