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Heart defects and diseases

This page contains information on the most common heart defects and hereditary heart diseases.

What is a Congenital Heart Defect?

Approximately 500 children with congenital heart defect are born each year in Finland. Heart diseases of children are mostly structural defects. It is estimated that approx. 1 % of all infants born each year have a heart defect. Structural heart defects are amongst the most commons anomalies of any singular organ of a human being. Heart defect can also be associated with certain syndromes, such as Down’s Syndrome or Catch-22 Syndrome. However, most children with heart defects do not have any additional structural defects.

Heart of a fetus develops during the first seven weeks of a pregnancy. The development of a heart is extremely complex series of events. If the development is interrupted for some reason, this may result in a structural deformation of a heart. The reasons for the interruption in the developmental period are yet unknown by medical science. It has been suggested that a combination of several factors may contribute to the development of a heart defect – including sheer coincidence. In addition, hereditary factors, some medication or disease, such as German measles suffered during pregnancy may cause heart defects.

As the reasons for the development of a heart defect are unknown in most cases, parents of a child may easily blame themselves for it. Although it is an understandable reaction, it is also totally unnecessary – the doings or non-doings of parents cannot be pointed out as the determinative factors behind the congenital heart defects.