Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital Heart Defects

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of a child’s heart. It can show up at or before birth.

In Texas, congenital heart defects, or CHDs, are only caught about one in every four times before birth, making Texas one of the states with the lowest rates of prenatal detection of CHDs. 

“I could tell something was wrong when I went for my ultrasound to do the gender reveal, and I was to come back in two weeks, which was faster than expected,” Lauren Freeman said. Freeman found out her second child may have a heart problem in her third trimester. Her cardiologist confirmed it was a CHD. 

“He confirmed there was a hole in the heart. The pulmonary valve was abnormally large, and the valve was missing,” Freeman said.

“There are babies born with small holes in their heart that actually close up on their own and don’t require any intervention,” said Dr. Ginnie Abarbanell, chair of pediatric cardiology at University Health and UT Health San Antonio.

Risks for Congenital Heart Defects

Abarbanell says all expecting mothers should have prenatal screenings, especially if they are in high-risk groups. “Specifically, if they have underlying conditions like diabetes, a family history of congenital heart disease, or if there are concerns when the obstetrician takes a look at the heart,” Abarbanell said.

Shortly after birth, Freeman’s daughter Olivia had the surgery needed to save her life.

“If we can catch them early, the outcome is better, and that’s why it’s really important to me,” Abarbanell said. 

Congenital Heart Care at University Health

Learn more about congenital heart and prenatal care at University Health in San Antonio.

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