What causes congenital heart defect (CHD)?

The heart starts beating and taking shape during the first six weeks of pregnancy. The major blood vessels that go to and from the heart form during these first six weeks as well. Defects likely also develop during this time. 
The exact cause of congenital heart defects is not well known. Certain medical conditions, medications, and environment factors may contribute to its development. In some cases, heredity may play a role in one’s child having a heart defect. Parents who have a congenital heart defect are more at risk for having a child who also has one. 
Having a child with CHD does not mean you did something wrong during pregnancy, but smoking and drinking during pregnancy puts your child at increased risk. 
In addition, children who have genetic disorders, like Down syndrome, commonly have CHD. 
Risk factors for CHD include:
  • Rubella: Having rubella during pregnancy can cause problems with the development of your baby’s heart.
  • Medications: Taking certain medications during pregnancy may increase the risk of your child having a congenital heart defect. Medications that are known to contribute to CHD are: thalidomide, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, statins, lithium, and isotretinoin. 
  • Diabetes: It is important to control your diabetes if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant in order to decrease the risk of your child having a congenital heart defect. 
  • Consuming alcohol during pregnancy
  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Heredity 
congenital heart defect (CHD) causes

  • “What Causes Congenital Heart Defects?” National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 01 Jul. 2011. Web. 14 Sep. 2017. 
  • "Congenital heart defects in children." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Jun. 2017. Web. 14 Sep. 2017.


From Our Blog: Trisomy Awareness Month

Did you know that women in their late 30s and 40s have a higher chance of giving birth to babies with chromosomal disorders? As a woman’s age increases, so too the risk of genetic conditions. March is the month of trisomy awareness. By improving the public’s knowledge on trisomy and gathering those affected by it, we can provide the support needed through advocacy.

trisomy awareness month infographic


Join the community!

You must be a member of healtheo360 in order to view this group

Register with Email Address

Already a member? Click here to login

healtheo360 believes strongly in user privacy.