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:

  • Get a Rubella (German measles) vaccine. If you develop Rubella during pregnancy, it may affect your baby's heart development. Being vaccinated before you try to conceive likely eliminates this risk.
  • 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 herbs, dietary supplements or drugs without consulting your doctor first.
  • 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.
Oct. 02, 2012