Congenital means that your baby was born with it. Heart disease means there is a problem with the heart.
Your baby's growth may be slower because of the heart problem, but there's a good chance that your baby will sit up, crawl, walk and talk at about the same time other children do. After the heart problem is fixed, chances are good that your baby will grow up to be strong and healthy.
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're upset that you may have caused your baby's heart problem, but don't blame yourself.
Several tests can show what kind of heart disease your baby has. Tests can also check on your baby's condition, to see how the heart is working. Here are some tests your baby might have:
Many babies who have heart disease need medicine to make their heart stronger or to prevent other problems. It's very important to give the medicine just the way your doctor tells you to. Try not to skip a dose. If you do forget a dose, call your doctor to find out if you should give an extra dose.
Surgery depends on the type of heart problem your baby has. Some heart problems have to be fixed as soon as the baby is born. Other problems can wait until the child is older. Sometimes the repair takes more than one operation.
After surgery, your baby will stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days so the doctors and nurses can keep a close watch. Tubes and machines keep track of your child's condition. They don't cause any pain. Many children are back at play just a few days after heart surgery.
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, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990401ap/1857.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff