Because the exact cause of most congenital heart defects is unknown, it may not be possible to prevent these conditions. However, there are some things you can do that might reduce your child's overall risk of birth defects and possibly heart defects, too, such as:
Feb. 28, 2015
- Get a rubella (German measles) vaccine. A rubella infection during pregnancy may affect your baby's heart development. Be sure to get vaccinated before you try to conceive.
- Control chronic medical conditions. If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar in check can reduce the risk of heart defects. If you have other chronic conditions, such as epilepsy, that require the use of medications, discuss the risks and benefits of these drugs with your doctor.
- Avoid harmful substances. During pregnancy, leave painting and cleaning with strong-smelling products to someone else. Also, don't take any drugs, herbs or dietary supplements without consulting your doctor first. Don't smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Take a multivitamin with folic acid. Daily consumption of 400 micrograms of folic acid has been shown to reduce birth defects in the brain and spinal cord and may help reduce the risk of heart defects as well.
- Congenital heart defects. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/chd/. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Bonow RO, et al. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Overview of congenital cardiovascular anomalies. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/overview_of_congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies.html?qt=Overview%20of%20Congenital%20Cardiovascular%20Anomalies&alt=sh. Accessed Dec. 22, 2013.
- Yuan S, et al. Congenital heart disease: Emerging themes linking genetics and development. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development. 2013;23:352.
- About congenital heart defects. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/About-Congenital-Heart-Defects_UCM_001217_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Facts about hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/hlhs.html. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.
- Congenital heart defects. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/congenital-heart-defects.aspx. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Congenital heart defects surgery. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/CareTreatmentforCongenitalHeartDefects/Congenital-Heart-Defects-Surgery_UCM_307729_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Hochberg L, et al. Folic acid for prevention of neural tube defects. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.