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Congenital Heart Disease
Causes & Risk Factors
The exact causes of congenital heart disease are not known. However, genetic factors such as gene mutation can cause atrial septal defect (ASD) and hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), and contraction of rubella (German measles), viral infections such as flu, and exposure to certain industrial solvents during the first three months of pregnancy cause congenital heart defects.
About 30 percent of children born with chromosomal aberrations, - such as Downs Syndrome (mental retardation and physical birth defects) and Turner Syndrome (short stature and lack of sexual development), - suffer from congenital heart defects. It may be noted that children with inherited disorders such as - Noonan Syndrome (short stature, learning disabilities), velocardiofacial syndrome (craniofacial defects and immune deficiencies), Holt-Oram Syndrome (limb defects) and Alagille Syndrome (liver, skeletal and eye defects) - also suffer from congenital heart defects.
Women suffering from diabetes and phenylketonuria (an inherited liver condition) are at risk of having children with congenital heart defects. Excessive use of alcohol, illegal drugs such as cocaine, certain anticonvulsants, and dermatologic drugs during pregnancy can cause congenital heart disease in infants (24).
Article by Kona Vishnu, MS
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