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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 during the pregnancy. When a woman drinks alcohol or takes certain drugs while she is pregnant, her baby may develop 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.

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 08, 2014
    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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