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    Deaths From Heart Birth Defects Decline

    Study Shows 24% Drop in Deaths From Heart Defects From 1999 to 2006

    Second Opinion

    ''This is very exciting news,'' says Gerard Martin, MD, senor vice president of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and chair of the Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council for the American College of Cardiology.

    He reviewed the study findings for WebMD but was not involved in the study.

    "It's exciting news for parents who have a child with congenital heart disease and it's exciting news for all the professionals who take care of children with congenital heart disease. I believe it confirms what we all feel -- that we are improving in the care we deliver to individuals with congenital heart disease, which is the most common birth defect in children."

    ''We don't know a lot about what causes congenital heart disease," Gilboa tells WebMD.

    Even so, a woman who is planning a pregnancy can take measures to reduce the risk of having a child with such a defect, she says.

    Obesity and diabetes both increase the risk of having a child with a congenital heart defect, Gilboa says. "Smoking during the first trimester is another risk factor for having a child with a congenital heart defect."

    For adults living with a congenital heart defect, both Gilboa and Martin agree, it's crucial for them to find a good adult cardiologist with experience treating congenital heart disease.

    Currently, Martin says, the number of cardiologists who specialize in the care of adults with congenital heart disease is not large. One U.S. organization that can provide a listing of such cardiologists is the Adult Congenital Heart Association, he says.

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