February 14, 2009
PRESS RELEASE 02/14/2009 | For Immediate Release
FEBRUARY 14TH IS CONGENITAL HEART DEFECT AWARENESS DAY
Today is dedicated to the heart!
by Arjumand Thompson
Dear Subscribers -
This February 14th, the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP) joins the global community in highlighting heart health in honor of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day 2009.
Congenital heart defects are structural defects of the heart and its major blood vessels that are present from birth. They are some of the most common of all major birth defects worldwide and are genetic or partially genetic in origin. Of the 9 million children born each year with a birth defect, more than 1 million will have congenital heart disease.
Diagnosed in-utero, shortly after birth, or later in life, congenital heart defects generally form within the first two months of pregnancy. Approximately 90 percent of all congenital heart defects are complex disorders that arise from a combination of genetic and environmental causes. Chromosomal abnormalities, single gene defects, and exposure to environmental agents (teratogens) such as alcohol, STD's, or iodine deficiency are all causes of congenital heart defects.
While congenital heart defects make up a significant number of birth defects globally, they can be effectively treated and even cured with surgery. There is also evidence that nutritional supplementation with folic acid may prevent congenital heart defects. Reduction in the burden of disease is directly determined by the level of health care available to patients. For this reason, the disease burden is most significant in low- and middle-income countries.
By Christopher P. Howson, Arnold Christianson, and Bernadette Modell
With Arnold Christianson
By David Weatherall, Brian Greenwood, Heng Leng Chee, and Prawase Wasi
Arjumand Thompson is a Program Associate with the Disease Control Priorities Project.