February Is CHD Awareness Month :: Know The Signs

February Is CHD Awareness Month :: Know The Signs

February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month.

Here are some statistics:

– There are 40 types of congenital heart defects.

– 40,000 babies are born in the USA with CHD every year, that equates to 1 in 100 children. One child every 15 minutes will receive a diagnosis.

– Around 25% of children who have CHD will need heart surgery or other types of interventions to survive.

– CHD is a leading cause of death in infants and children, twice as many children will die from CHD as they will from all forms of childhood cancer combined. Yet childhood cancer research funding is five times higher than CHD research funding

– Baton Rouge does NOT have a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon. Our closest pediatric heart surgeons are in New Orleans.

– There is NO cure for CHD.

Have I gotten your attention yet?

Here are some symptoms that are prominent in CHD. Please talk to your pediatrician about your concerns if your child has any of these. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  • February Is CHD Awareness Month :: Know The SignsSlow growth, not gaining weight normally.
  • A gray or bluish tint to lips, fingernails, or skin.
  • Becomes very tired and lethargic easily, in toddlers and older children, they have a hard time running around playing and keeping up with their peers.
  • Sweating profusely and frequently (my daughter would be drenched every time she ate)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling
  • Fainting during exercise or activities

Lots of children are diagnosed during wellness checks whenever their doctor notices a heart murmur and then sends a referral for a pediatric cardiologist. Sometimes children are diagnosed in the womb, and some are not diagnosed until much later, if at all. Just because a child has a CHD, does not mean surgery will be required. Sometimes they’re simply monitored by their cardiologist. Only when the situation is more dire, is surgery done.

A diagnosis brings a whole set of emotions you can’t prepare for, but there is hope.

Most children that are diagnosed and treated grow up to live relatively normal lives, some even go on to live restriction free. You CANNOT let that diagnosis define your child.

The CHD community is one you never want to be a part of but if you have to, there’s plenty of resources available to give you not only a better understanding of the diagnosis, but also support from people who have been there. In this day of social media, there’s more support than ever for parents of heart kids. A quick Facebook search will bring up local and national pages and groups dense with information.

To everyone facing a new diagnosis, be strong for your child and let them show you just how strong they can be in return.

Sara Hodge
Sara is the proud mother of four children and 2 cats. Born in Baton Rouge, she grew up in Ascension and decided to settle down in her hometown of Gonzales with her husband Travis. As the mom of two children with congenital heart disease, she's passionate about raising awareness for the cause. In her rare moments of spare time, she enjoys reading Stephen King novels, spending all her money on Amazon, and scrolling through TikTok. You can usually find her cruising the streets listening to 2000's emo, being her children's personal chauffeur.

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