Congenital heart disease is a term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal way the heart works. The disease is one of the common types of birth defects, affecting almost 1 in 100 babies born in the UK. The causes of congenital heart are disruptions in the normal development of the heart. Some increased risks of congenital heart disease in children are genetic conditions, maternal diabetes, alcohol, rubella, and influenza. Medicines taken during pregnancy also increase the risk of congenital heart disease. This article will explain more about the causes of congenital heart disease in children.
Causes of Congenital Heart Disease in Children
To begin with, congenital heart disease is caused when the normal development of the baby’s heart is disrupted. Research finds that the disease occurs when something affects the heart’s development during the six weeks of pregnancy. This is a period when the heart is developing from a simple tube-like structure into a shape more like a fully formed heart.
Increased Risks of Congenital Heart Disease in Children are:
Additionally, several things can increase the chances of a child having congenital heart disease. One of them is genetic conditions. Genetic conditions that a baby can inherit from one or both parents can cause congenital heart disease. Research shows that certain types of congenital heart disease run in families. Down’s syndrome is the most known genetic condition that can cause congenital heart disease. Children with Down’s syndrome are born with a range of disabilities as a result of a genetic abnormality. Statistics show that about half of all children with Down’s syndrome have congenital heart disease.
Furthermore, women with diabetes have a high risk of giving birth to a baby with congenital heart disease. The increased risk only applies to type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The increased risk is suspected to be caused by high levels of the hormone insulin in the blood. This may interfere with the normal development of a fetus.
To add on, if a pregnant woman drinks too much alcohol it can have a poisonous effect on the tissue of the fetus. This is called fetus alcohol spectrum disorder. Children with this disorder can have congenital heart disease such as ventricular septal or atrial defects.
Moreover, women who get flu during the first trimester of pregnancy are at risk of having a baby with congenital heart disease. To prevent this, the flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women.
Other Increased Risk of Congenital Heart Disease in Children
Research indicates that there are several medicines linked to an increased risk of a baby being born with congenital heart disease. These include certain anti-seizure medicines such as benzodiazepines for example diazepam. Certain acne medicines such as isotretinoin, topical retinoids, and ibuprofen have an increased risk of having a baby with a heart problem. It is safer to take paracetamol than ibuprofen during pregnancy. You should ideally avoid taking any medicine while you are three months pregnant.
Another increased risk of congenital heart disease in children is rubella. This is an infectious condition caused by a virus. It can severely affect the unborn baby if a mother develops a rubella infection during the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. It can cause multiple birth defects including congenital heart disease.
In conclusion, the term congenital means the condition is present from birth. Congenital heart disease is caused when the normal development of the heart is disrupted. Several things can increase the chance of a child having congenital disease. These are genetic conditions, maternal diabetes, alcohol, rubella, influenza, and medicines as explained in this article.