Congenital Heart Disease | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes congenital heart disease?

Doctors don’t always know what caused a congenital heart problem. Some risk factors for congenital heart problems include:

  • Family history: The risk of having a child with congenital heart problems is higher if a parent or sibling has a congenital heart problem.
  • Genetic disorder: Certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, increase the risk of congenital heart problems.
  • Infection: Certain infections during pregnancy, such as rubella, may increase the risk of having a baby with congenital heart problems.

Did I do something during pregnancy that made my baby have this problem?

It's normal to worry that something you did could have caused the problem, but most of the time doctors don't know what caused it. Talk with your family doctor if you wonder if you may have caused your baby's heart problem, but don't blame yourself.


Caring for Infants with Congenital Heart Disease and Their Families by RB Saenz, M.D., DK Beebe, M.D., and LC Triplett, M.D. (American Family Physician April 01, 1999,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00