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Why Don’t We Know More About Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease?


On its own, “pediatric congenital heart disease” sounds like a rare condition characteristic of a primetime medical drama, but rare it is not. In fact, one out of every 120 babies in the United States is born with heart disease. Affecting approximately 40,000 babies each year, congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of birth defect. These statistics beg the question: why don’t we know more about it? And more importantly, how can we learn more about it?

Lucky for us, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and more specifically, its Cardiac Center, is right in our backyard. The center’s team of specialists helps thousands of children with heart disease each year. Even better: the program’s outcomes are among the best in the nation. 

In short, they know their heart stuff.

And thanks in part to CHOP’s and other institutions’ success in treating infants with CHD, there are now approximately 1.4 million children and adults in the United States living with congenital heart defects. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness about CHD and help hospitals like CHOP find ways to improve the outlook for these children and adults for the long term.

CHOP’s Cardiac Center is paving the way for innovation by pursuing many different research paths. Current research includes a study examining the link between certain gene mutations, heart defects and learning disabilities; ways to improve heart valve replacements; the use of 3-D printed models of diseased hearts to help clinicians better plan care; and many, many other projects. (Read about them here!)

But the Cardiac Center’s research projects require the support of funding and donations. That’s why it’s important that we raise awareness about congenital heart disease, as well as the need for donors who can support the research work that still needs to be done. The more people learn about the widespread impact of CHD, the more likely they are to support the cause and help improve care for everyone facing a CHD diagnosis.

So how can you help spread the word? For more information about how you can support children and adults with congenital heart disease, visit The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s heart disease awareness month advocacy page.