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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.

    Recommended Related to Heart Disease

    Heart Tests Your Doctor May Recommend

    Preventing a heart attack is a lot easier when you -- and your doctor -- know exactly what's going on in the vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Are they blocked with plaque or free-flowing? To find out, your doctor may recommend a high-tech imaging test that shows a clear image of your arteries. Here's what you need to know about them.

    Read the Heart Tests Your Doctor May Recommend article > >

    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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