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Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease

Babies born with congenital heart disease have a heart structure problem, or defect. These defects alter the flow of blood in and out of the heart.

Congenital Heart Disease Treatment: Why Choose Us?

The maternal-fetal medicine specialists at the Fetal Care Center have deep expertise detecting heart problems in unborn babies. 

Our specialists partner with experts at the Fetal Heart Center to offer the most advanced medical care for unborn babies and newborns with heart problems. Here, your baby benefits from life-saving programs and procedures, including:

About Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect, affecting approximately 8 out of every 1,000 newborns. 

Congenital heart disease affects every baby differently. Some babies have simple heart defects that do not impact quality of life. Other, more complex heart defects can be life-threatening. 

We are experts at diagnosing and treating a range of congenital heart defects, from the simple to the complex. Some of the more serious heart defects we treat include:

Causes of Congenital Heart Disease

Most congenital heart defects have no known cause. Occasionally, heart defects are genetic, meaning your child may be more likely to have a heart defect if you or your partner has one. 

Children with certain chromosomal disorders, such as Down syndrome, also are more likely to have heart disease. Our genetic counselors can help you understand your risk for congenital heart disease in future pregnancies.

Diagnosing Congenital Heart Disease

In addition to ultrasounds, you may receive a fetal echocardiogram. This ultrasound imaging test assesses the structure and health of your unborn baby’s heart. A pediatric cardiologist will provide information about your unborn baby’s heart condition and treatment options. Learn more about high-risk pregnancy tests.

Treating Congenital Heart Disease

Throughout pregnancy, you undergo regular ultrasounds to check the development of your baby’s heart. Babies with heart problems need advanced medical care. We recommend that you deliver at a hospital equipped to care for a high-risk pregnancy, such as the Women & Infants Center. 

After delivery, your baby receives advanced medical care in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, or in the Level IV newborn intensive care unit (NICU), which is connected to labor and delivery. 

Treatment for congenital heart disease depends on the type and severity of the problem. Some children with simple heart defects grow out of them or respond well to medication. 

Babies with complex heart defects require surgery. These babies also may need:

During pregnancy, pediatric cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons from the Heart Center discuss treatment options for your baby. The pediatric cardiology and heart surgery program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University fetal heart specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 866.990.7053.