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Congenital Heart Defects - What Increases Your Risk

In most cases, the cause of a congenital heart defect isn't known. But certain things increase your baby's chances of having a heart defect. These include:

  • Family history. A child's risk for having a congenital heart defect increases if a brother, sister, or parent has one.
  • Other genetic conditions. For example, Down syndrome has been linked to these defects.
  • Premature birth. Babies born too early have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
  • Chronic conditions. Babies born to women with diabetes or phenylketonuria have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs. Women who drink alcohol, take certain prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or use illegal street drugs during pregnancy may cause the baby to have a heart defect.

If you're concerned about having a baby with a congenital heart defect, you can take steps to lower your risk. For healthy pregnancy choices, see the topic Pregnancy.

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Do You Know Which Symptoms Signal a Heart Attack in Women?

Most women know the symptoms of a heart attack -- squeezing chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea. But as it turns out, these symptoms are more typical for males. Female heart attacks can be quite different -- and it’s important for all women to learn the warning signs. Rhonda Monroe's story is a cautionary tale. She was mystified when strong pain struck her left breast and left arm. Monroe, who was a 36-year-old mother of three, didn’t know it at the time, but she was having early symptoms...

Read the Do You Know Which Symptoms Signal a Heart Attack in Women? article > >

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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