Discoveries and Data: Specific Conditions

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Serious structural heart defects occur in about 1 in 440 babies, making them the most common type of birth defect. They can occur alone or be associated with other birth defects, such as chromosome abnormalities. Conotruncal defects—major abnormalities of the heart’s chambers or blood vessels leading to and from the heart—comprise about 25% of all heart defects.

DETECTION AND TREATMENT

Although sometimes diagnosed with prenatal ultrasound examination, there is no systematic screening program for heart defects.

Conotruncal defects are a particularly serious subset of heart conditions; 25%-60% of affected infants will die before age 1. In survivors, early surgery relieves symptoms but definitive corrective surgery is needed later in childhood. Here are average lifetime cost for medical treatment, educational services and lost productivity for some specific types:

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