The heart is one of the most vital organs. Any damage to the heart can severely affect the entire body functioning. Well, not all of us are born lucky. There are a few who are born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), heart disease that is present right from birth.
So why are a few infants born with CHD? In majority of the cases it has been found that the parents are responsible for such birth defects.
The problem does not end here as the number of CHD cases are on the rise. The prevalence of the disease is about 0.5%-0.8% of the live births (8/1000).
CHD is a major cause of death (after prematurity) in the first year of life. Many people still have a doubt as to why and how can a newborn have heart disease?
Also Read: Quit These Habits To Keep Your Heart Healthy
So with the World Heart Day just around, Dr. I.B.Vijayalakshmi who is the Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Super Specialty Hospital, PMSSY, Bengaluru Medical College and Research Institute, throws some light on the best ways to prevent CHD.
Q. What are the early signs of CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: The signs are visible when the baby is in the mother's womb itself. The foetus will either be bloated because of the water collection or on the other hand, the foetus will be very small as the heart will not be pumping enough blood.
Q. What are the risk factors that increase the chances of CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: Alcohol abuse and tobacco consumption by expectant mothers can give rise to CHD among newborns. Drugs like anti-depressants, anti-asthamatic and anti-epileptic are yet another risk factor.
Many a times women consume medicines to abort pregnancy but when it fails, there are high chances of the baby being born with CHD. Also in women who deliver post 36-40 years the risk of having a baby with CHD is high.
Q. What are the chances of survival for infants who are born with CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: The survival chance for those with mild symptoms of CHD is about 80 per cent. However, if the case is severe, the survival chance is not more than 10 per cent. In such severe cases there are higher chances of having stillborn or the infants die even before celebrating their first birthday.
Q. Is it only the mother or even the father is responsible for CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: Both parents are equally responsible. If the father has a habit of consuming alcohol then the baby is likely to have a ventricular septal defect or a hole in the heart.
Also Read: Foods To Keep Your Heart Healthy
Q. What are the best ways to prevent CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: Avoiding consumption of alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and even drugs like anti-depressant, anti-asthamatic and anti-epileptic help to prevent CHD.
It has also been found that the use of hair dye can increase the risk of CHD and hence it should be avoided.
It has been proved that if the mother takes folic acid and B3 vitamin soon after she plans to have a baby, the risk of CHD can be reduced.
Q. Other factors to prevent CHD?
Dr Vijayalakshmi: In addition to this, having a good balanced healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and macronutrient-rich foods is essential to prevent CHD. This apart, having a pleasant mind and listening to good music helps in having a healthy baby and prevents any kind of CHD.